A few months ago 10:10 presented the strikingly innovative idea of powering trains directly from solar power – a world first. This month they released a report detailing another smart idea – using London’s lost rivers as a source of heat.
London has several buried rivers, culverted and built over in the development of the city. Among them are the Walbrook, the Tyburn and the Fleet. Some of them surface here and there, others are more or less lost, only visible where they flow into the Thames. There have been calls to ‘daylight’ them in the past, but 10:10 have another use for them: heating.
Heat pumps capture low levels of heat and relocate it. Think of your fridge. The loop of refrigerant captures heat inside the fridge and moves it to the outside. The inside of the fridge cools, and the heat is released through the black-grated netherworld of dust and cobwebs at the back. What, yours isn’t like that?
A water-source heat pump installed on one of London’s underground rivers would absorb low-grade heat from the passing water, cooling it and transfering the heat to the buildings above. In summer, the process could run in reverse to provide low-carbon cooling.
This is not a new idea. There are several examples in the report, including Borders College in Scotland and the presidential palace in Paris. It’s a proven technology, and there are several places where it could be applied in London. Buckingham Palace is being refitted at the moment, and has a river nearby. Stamford Brook runs directly underneath Hammersmith Town Hall.
A couple of high profile examples like this, and other places might start to take notice. Maybe even Luton, where the venerable River Lea lies buried under the town centre. It flows past the cinema, the library, the job centre and parts of the university. Any one of them might want to take a long hard look at 10:10’s Lost Rivers report.