The scheme represents an overall investment of £7 million and is forecast to be complete by the end of the year. Following the construction of the Southwark Integrated Waste Management Facility on Old Kent Road, Southwark Council is already able divert more of the borough's waste than ever before from landfill, This scheme offers further environmental improvements by allowing waste that cannot be recycled to provide low carbon heat to five estates in SE16.
The existing gas boilers on the five estates in Rotherhithe will be switched off resulting in a reduction of around 8,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per annum.
The pioneering scheme presents a viable alternative to traditional gas fired boilers. It will provide sustainable and secure heating for the Southwark homes it serves and promises to deliver long term energy cost savings to residents. The scheme will run for 20 years, after which the council will decide whether to retain the scheme or revert back to the traditional supply of gas.
Since its inception, the SELCHP facility has generated electricity, which fed into the National Grid but until now, the extraction of heat, in the form of hot water that is created as part of the energy process, has not been possible. The facility processes around 430,000 tonnes of waste each year.
Councillor Barrie Hargrove, Cabinet Member for Transport, Environment, and Recycling said: "We are delighted to be pioneering such an innovative scheme which will undoubtedly bring about credible benefits not only to our local residents but to the country as a whole. Realising the full potential of the SELCHP facility for the first time means that heat provision can be delivered in a cleaner and more cost effective way. As the first London borough to take such a positive step, we are signalling our strong commitment to the reduction of carbon emissions and keeping Southwark an environmentally friendly zone."
Estelle Brachlianoff, Veolia Environnement Director of Northern Europe and UK Country Director added: "We are delighted to be partnering Southwark Council with this ground breaking £7 million scheme in this innovative project which will become the second major district heating network we operate in the UK.
"In simple terms we are providing heat and hot water for local residents from their rubbish which is unsuitable for recycling. The great news is there is capacity for more buildings to join the SELCHP network and there are already interested potential customers. This will increase the facility's efficiency even further and shows the circular economy in action."
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "It is fantastic that SELCHP will soon be providing low carbon, low cost heating to homes in South East London through a new heat network, something I am working hard to encourage more of across the capital. Local heat and power supplies not only save Londoners money and reduce carbon emissions but also help to provide London with a more secure, sustainable, cost-effective energy supply."