Detailed designs are to be drawn up for the 7,500 sq ft power facility in the city’s strategic Southern Corridor, close to Oxford Road innovation district, with a start on site due this autumn.
The Octagon Project Energy Network (OPEN) energy centre was granted planning approval by Manchester City Council in March and last month scooped £14.6m from the Government’s £320m Heat Networks Investment Project fund to increase the number of district heat networks being developed across the country.
Heat networks are a key part of the Government’s plan to cut carbon emissions and lower heating bills for customers. They typically comprise a distribution system of insulated pipes that takes heat from a central source and deliver it to domestic or commercial buildings nearby.
The Manchester energy centre, part of the larger OPEN project that also involves local cooling and electricity provision, aims to meet the heating needs of businesses, residents and other stakeholders within a 5 sq km area and support the city’s aim of being carbon neutral by 2038.
The area in question is one of the council’s strategic development areas and encompasses Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust properties, a cluster of university buildings, a mix of social and private housing, numerous purpose-built student accommodation blocks and various businesses.
The actual centre would be located at the site of Octagon House on Hathersage Road, near Victoria Park – previously the headquarters of electricity provider Norweb.
Artform Architects designed the proposals, while Walsingham Planning was the planning consultant and Vital Energy provided technical design and support. The project is being led by Manchester Energy Partnership, a joint venture between Electricity North West Construction and Maintenance – part of the Electricity North West Group that owns and operates the region’s electricity distribution network – and Octagon Estates, which owns the three-acre Octagon House plot.
The centre expects to take waste heat from the Heineken Brewery on Denmark Road – and other sources of heat generated during electricity generation and from exhaust gases – as hot water. It would then distribute this around the local area via a system of insulated pipes that the team claims is more energy efficient than traditional boiler methods.
The building’s design features large, glazed panels facing the street, allowing the public to view its internal workings and processes. The external appearance also “references the industrial nature of the project, with a perforated metal skin that graduates in colour from darker to lighter shades of green”, Artform’s founding director Jason Eccles told Place North West.