National grid transformer

Waste heat from grid transformers could power network ‘boilers’

Heat networks could be decarbonised by capturing waste heat from electricity transformers to generate heating and hot water for homes and businesses.

A new project by SSE Energy Solutions and National Grid offers a route to net-zero heat when applied to transformers served by 100 per cent renewable electricity from wind or solar farms. The heat recovery project could initially reduce carbon emissions from heat networks by more than 40 per cent compared with traditional gas-led systems.

The project has the potential to save millions of tonnes of COevery year if rolled out across National Grid’s network of transformers in England and Wales, harnessing waste heat via SSE heat networks to serve towns and cities.

Nathan Sanders, managing director at SSE Energy Solutions, says: “Electric power transformers generate huge amounts of heat as a by-product when electricity flows through them. At the moment, this heat is just vented directly into the atmosphere and wasted.

“By their very nature, electricity transformers are primarily located where people live, work and consume energy, meaning that they have the potential to be incredibly valuable community assets if we apply a bit of clever thinking.

“This ground-breaking project aims to capture that waste heat and effectively turn transformers into community ‘boilers’ that serve local heat networks with a low or even zero-carbon alternative to fossil-fuel heat sources such as gas boilers.

“We see heat networks as a key part of the UK’s future low-carbon energy infrastructure, enabling us to exploit waste heat sources and use these to heat homes and businesses across the country.”

The heat recovery technology is going through trials now at National Grid’s Deeside Centre for Innovation.

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