Global engineering and design giant Parsons Brinckerhoff is to commence construction of a £14m energy centre and heat network in Gateshead, northeast England in March.

The new district heating scheme will provide heat and low-cost, low-carbon energy for homes and businesses in central Gateshead and Gateshead Quayside will start in March.

Powered by a 2 MW combined heat and power gas engine initially, the energy centre will generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 5,000 homes, and has the capacity to be expanded to 6 MW, as the scheme grows. The electricity will be supplied directly to customers by its own dedicated cables, or “private wire”.
Any surplus generated will be sold into the National Grid. The waste heat created by generating electricity is used to provide hot water direct to the buildings through an underground district heat network. This is almost twice as efficient as conventional power stations, where waste heat is lost to the atmosphere.

Parsons Brinckerhoff is acting as Project Manager and Owners Engineer and will continue to work closely with the council, contractors, stakeholders and end-users, through the construction and commissioning stages of the project.

The project is being led by Gateshead Council as part of its efforts to retain existing and attract new business to the area, reduce emissions and cut energy bills.

Contracts will be awarded for construction of both the energy centre and the connections to buildings, and the first buildings are expected to be supplied from their new power source from early 2016.

Buildings served by the new network are expected to save significantly on energy bills compared to their current suppliers, and this saving will be guaranteed to customers for the life of the scheme. The project is expected to be fully self-financing, the construction and operating costs for Gateshead Council being repaid over the life of the projects via energy sales.

The contract for the construction of the energy centre will be awarded to Balfour Beatty, another contract for the energy networks will be awarded to Clancy Docwra while the contract for the combined heat and power engines will be awarded to Edina UK.