Repowering and members of London community energy groups travelled to Islington on a chilly Thursday evening in February for a tour of the Bunhill Energy Centre.
The tour began in the energy centre offices on Old Street where James Wilson, an Energy Projects & Programmes Team Leader at Islington Council gave the attendees an overview of Bunhill. The talk covered the centre’s history, how it works and plans for the project in the future. The Bunhill Energy Centre was launched in November 2012 and uses gas to produce electricity. The excess heat from the process, instead of being wasted, is used to heat homes and leisure centres in the local area. The electricity is currently sold to the grid however the project has hopes to become a direct supplier. Bunhill is part of the EU CELCIUS project that links projects in cities around Europe that aim to harness waste heat energy. In his overview of the future plans for the project, James outlined possibilities of harnessing other sources of heat. Two particularly interesting ideas were collecting heat produced by the London Underground or using waste material as a source of fuel for Bunhill station rather than gas. Currently the project is entering its second phase to increase its network and provide heat to more Islington residents.
Following the talk we headed outside to visit the station itself. En route we passed through one of several local estates that the energy centre provides heat to. After a short walk we reached Bunhill Energy Centre, a charming wood-clad structure that goes against all stereotypes of what a power station should look like. As we were waiting for James to unlock the gates, a local resident came up to make sure we weren’t causing any mischief. Proof if any that the centre is clearly valued by the community.
Once inside the site, stepping through the timber gates into a small courtyard, the cool February air suddenly became balmy and the noise from the surrounding streets gave way to the soft humming of the station. Gazing up at the tall wooden spire of the water storage tower and surrounded by strange metal contraptions whirring away in the dark, the setting was surprisingly relaxing. Who would have thought a trip to a power station could be so meditative? Taking time to talk to other attendees on our way back to the tube it was clear that the trip to Bunhill Energy Centre went well beyond being solely an educational session and made for a genuinely inspiring experience.
Jazmin White, a budding photographer and Repowering intern from the Vauxhall Energy project was on hand to take photos of the looming structures within the Bunhill Energy Centre.