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Energy Efficiency

London To Use Waste Heat From Subway Tunnels To Heat Homes

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is going  to utilize excess heat from subway tunnels and an electric substation in London to supply homes with heat.

Substations contain electronics such as transformers through which massive amounts of power travel, and these transformers do generate a great deal of heat because of this. But that heat is normally wasted.

Coming at a good time, when a harsh winter is expected for London, this harvested heat can benefit Londoners by enabling them to switch off or turn down their existing heaters and thus save electricity/gas and emissions.

Photo Credit: Anirudh Koul / / CC BY-NC

If the heat is being supplied to the people who need it most (those in poverty), that would be even better (provided it is at a low price). Being Jamaican, I can’t imagine what it must be like to sit in the bitter cold for months without the ability to keep warm.

This is somewhat reminiscent of district steam and district heating, which has been used in New York City and Sweden. They have used waste heat generated by power plants to provide buildings with steam and heat via pipelines. Without these heating systems, heat generated by power plants, substations, and subways would be vented into the atmosphere, instead of keeping people warm in their homes.

According to the executive member of sustainability of Islington Council, carbon dioxide emissions should fall by 500 tons annually. According to Grist, this project will help the mayor attain his goal of a 60% CO2 emissions reduction. He also wants to obtain 20% of the city’s electricity from local sources by 2025.

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Written By

writes on CleanTechnica, Gas2, Kleef&Co, and Green Building Elements. He has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, and geography. His website is:


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