Revolutionary Open Water Pump Wins Sustainability Award

The open water heat pump in the River Thames

A revolutionary open water thermal pump, which heats 137 homes and a hotel in Kingston,  has won an award for the “Best Technology” during Climate Week, Britain’s biggest climate change campaign.

The pump is the first of its kind in the UK and was built for NHP Leisure Development which runs the riverside project Kingston Heights.

It is said to save about 500 tonnes of CO2 every year by using the solar energy stored naturally within the River Thames.

Mike Spenser-Morris, managing director at NHP Leisure Development, said: “Inexplicably, nobody in this country has recognised the multiple advantages of using open water as the energy source, capable of producing virtually unlimited amounts of thermal energy.

“My aim is that this soon becomes the automatic system of choice for anyone carrying out major development in close proximity to an open body of water.”

The pump was installed two metres below the surface of the Thames, where the water maintains a constant temperature of 8 °C, no matter how cold it gets during winter.

This heat is then transferred through a heat exchanger, contained within a compressor, which transfers the low grade heat from the internal water into a liquid gas that boils at a very low temperature.

When pressurised by the compressor it becomes a “superheated” gas that transfers heat at around 45°C for the heating of the 137 apartments and the 142 bedroom hotel in the Kingston Heights complex.

During the whole process the river water changes its temperature by no more than 3°C.

Therefore the pump has no impact on the river ecology.

The developers say the pump will not only save a lot of CO2 that would otherwise be emitted by the building complex, it will also reduce energy bills for the future tenants by around 16 per cent a year.

Mr Spenser-Morris, who described winning the prestigious Climate Week award as “amazing”, said: “It makes no sense to keep installing carbon emitting systems lacking energy efficiency when such a beneficial alternative is available.”

He also set up the Zero Carbon Partnership, a company designed to help others follow in the footsteps of the Kingston Heights Development.

In fact the pump could find its way into mainstream quite soon.

Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, who formally switched on the pump in October 2013, has expressed a strong interest in the pump.

He said: “Kingston Heights is a great example of how sustainable solutions can help power entire communities. 

“I want to see a community energy revolution where projects like this are the norm, not the exception.”

Image courtesy of NHP Leisure Development.

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