University of Northampton Opens £6.5m Biomass Energy Centre


The University of Northampton has officially opened a £6.5m Biomass Energy Centre that will help deliver heat and hot water via a district heating network at its Waterside campus.

The project saw the institution work with energy specialists Vital Energi and construction consultants Mace to deliver the 1MW biomass plant, following the completion of the 1.6km district heating network that will provide heat and hot water to 16 buildings around the 58-acre city centre campus.

In addition to the biomass boiler, the energy centre contains three 4W gas fired boilers and a 120m3 thermal store.

The project has been designed to produce fewer emissions than traditional biomass systems, and will initially help reduce the University’s carbon emissions by more than 1,000 tonnes a year.

When the Combined Heat and Power (CHP) engine is added to the system, however, it is estimated emissions reductions will increase to 2,200 tonnes a year, or the equivalent to taking 431 cars of the road annually.

Mike Cooke, regional director at Vital Energi, said the biomass energy centre was “a great example for industry”.

“Creating a renewable energy solution for a new city centre campus is an ambitious objective,” he said. “However the University have achieved this while demonstrating their commitment to sustainability.”

Officially unveiled on Tuesday, the energy centre also features a 27 square metre LED screen on the flue shaft to “enhance the visual architecture of the building”, the University’s project director, Bob Griggs, said.

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to develop the University’s commitment to its sustainability agenda and environmental infrastructure has been a key factor in the planning and construction of the Waterside Campus,” said Griggs. “By working with Vital Energi we have a sustainable, future proof heating network which will service the campus well.”