Shining a light on low carbon network

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Published: 19 October 2021


The Tower of Light in Manchester city centre

Manchester’s new Tower of Light structure has been officially switched on, marking a milestone in the development of the city’s new Civic Quarter Heat Network. 

Owned by the council and built by Vital Energi, the focal point of the Civic Quarter Heat Network is the 40m Tower of Light, which will be lit up every night. The tower will be a striking new landmark in the city centre and be the most visible manifestation of the network, which will provide heating and electricity to some of Manchester city centre’s most iconic buildings. The network, which will go live early next year, will help them to reduce carbon emissions and support the city’s transition to zero carbon by 2038. 

Using low carbon power generated in an energy centre located underneath the railway arches by Manchester Central, the network will serve the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester Central Convention Complex, Central Library, Heron House, Manchester Art Gallery and Manchester Town Hall and Town Hall extension buildings via 2km of underground pipes.  

And the network will also have the capacity to connect to other buildings in the vicinity - both existing and future, whether public or private-owned – helping them to reduce their carbon footprints too. 

The network has an efficient combined heat and power engine which captures and re-uses heat created as a by-product of producing electricity. Although initially fuelled by natural gas, there are plans to further reduce its carbon footprint as alternative measures and fuel supplies become available including the use of biomethane and the potential introduction of hydrogen into the fuel mix in 2024

The project received Heat Networks Investment Project (HNIP) funding, which is delivered by Triple Point Networks Investment Management on behalf of the Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Vital Energi