Vital Energi has started on site with the £20m Civic Quarter Heat Network being built in Manchester city centre to supply buildings such as the Town Hall Extension, Art Gallery and Central Library with low-carbon energy.
Manchester City Council has been working with sustainable energy supplier Vital Energi on the plans for a number of years, which are part-funded by the Government’s £320m Heat Network Investment Project. The project is topped by a distinctive Tower of Light flue designed by architect Tonkin Liu.
The project gets under way despite the budget nearly doubling since it was originally put forward. A budget of £14m was put forward by the council in 2016/17, but this has since increased to £26m, which in reports last year the council said was down to “changes in design and specification”.
The buildings to be supplied by the network are Manchester Central, the Town Hall Extension, Heron House, Manchester Art Gallery, Central Library, Midland Hotel and One St Peter’s Square.
The heat and hot water required to run the heating and electricity network would be generated at a 26.7MW-capacity Combined Heat & Power Centre, to be located under the Metrolink arch at the junction of West Mosley Street and Great Bridgewater Street next to Manchester Central.
Engineer Arup has worked with Tonkin Liu on the design of the centre, along with the distinctive tower, which would include five dispersion flues “encased within an architectural wrap,” an ultra-lightweight single surface shell-lace structure.