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Pioneering Olympic-style mini power plant in Finsbury to help with ‘rip-off’ bills gets up and running

PUBLISHED: 15:05 30 November 2012 | UPDATED: 15:08 30 November 2012

Bunhill Energy Centre in Central Street, Finsbury

Bunhill Energy Centre in Central Street, Finsbury

Archant

A pioneering European-style heat and energy plant using the same technology that powered the Olympic Park has opened.

The Bunhill Energy Centre in Central Street, Finsbury, was fired up on Wednesday (November 28) and should provide cheaper and greener heating to some 700 households and two leisure centres.

It has been described as “the way of the future” by Islington Council’s environment chief, who claims residents will see their “rip-off” heating bills fall by around 10 per cent.

Cllr Paul Smith, the council’s executive member for environment, said: “We’ve built this energy centre to bring cheaper, greener heating to people on local estates, and at a time of soaring energy prices it will help many people who struggle to heat their homes.

“We would like to have a network across all of Islington, although that requires money. But this will show these things can be done and are the way of the future.”

The £4.2million mini-power plant serves homes on the Stafford Cripps, Redbrick and St Luke’s estates, as well as both the Finsbury Leisure Centre and newly reopened Ironmonger Row Baths.

It is one of only a handful of combined heat and energy plants built by local authorities around the country, although they are far more common in European cities such as Paris, Berlin and Copenhagen. Islington Council is already in the early stages of planning a second, which would also be in Finsbury and could appear in 2014.

The structure, built on top of a former car park that some residents had hoped to see turned into a park, has a large gas-powered engine that generates electricity.

The electricity is fed back into the national grid, while the heat created by the engine is harnessed to warm the water in its central tower, which is then piped into surrounding homes. In a normal power station, most of the heat produced by electricity generation is wasted.

Between 1896 and 1969, Islington ran a coal-powered plant in Eden Grove, Holloway. Cllr Smith added: “Islington Council first started providing power more than 100 years ago, so everyday residents could benefit from electricity. Now, as fuel bills get higher and higher and become more of a rip-off for residents, we are doing it again.”


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