London Development Agency London Development Agency National Sports Centre, Crystal Palace Complete

Vital Energi delivered a Combined Heat and Power solution to the National Sports Centre at Crystal Palace which is regarded as one of the most efficient schemes in the UK achieving a 93% efficiency level.

“Throughout the installation of the project, there has only been praise for Vital Energi's Project Manager and other members of the team. Without Vital Energi's continued presence and daily guidance at the site, the project would not have been delivered on time and the savings realised within the clients demanding timeframe.”

Howard Stone Associate Director, Cynergin

Project Overview

Vital Energi’s innovative heating system is set to reduce up to £400,000 a year off the fuel bills of London’s iconic National Sports Centre whilst cutting its CO2 emissions by 50%.* Vital Energi was selected to design, supply and install a record-breaking low carbon solution at the National Sports Centre (NSC), as part a £13million refurbishment by the London Development Agency (LDA).

The £1,000,000.00 upgrade of the system was funded by the LDA who have a 125 year lease for owning and managing the National Sports Centre. The LDA’s regeneration of the NSC was a major part of its Master Plan for Crystal Park, which aimed to ensure that the historic park and NSC had a “vibrant and sustainable future”. Following the news that the LDA was to be disbanded, ensuring a successful succession of the lease of the NSC became a high priority to the LDA, who also wanted to utilise its remaining financial grants.

As energy costs were a significant proportion of the overall costs of running the NSC the LDA investigated ways of ensuring the operational costs of running the centre could be controlled and that the equipment was reliable and efficient. This investigation revealed that there was massive potential for improvement on performance of the existing system, despite it being refurbished only two years ago. Upgrading the system on an accelerated programme was also a priority as the NSC will be a training facility for the 2012 Olympics. 

The Challenge

Installing the CHP unit could have been lengthy and problematic due to the limited space within the building and the restrictions that apply to listed sites however, Vital Energi solved the problem by designing and building an external hub to house the CHP engine next to the main NSC building. A series of negotiations on the exact location, size and appearance of the ‘CHP hub’ ensured that it maintains the listed building’s integrity and character. To support the CHP unit Vital Energi removed NSC’s existing system and replaced it with a new fully condensing boiler solution. Combined within one innovative energy system, the CHP, condensing boiler and other energy initiatives are predicted to dramatically slash the current CO2 emissions of the NSC by 50% (1850 tonnes), cutting energy bills by up to £400,000 per annum. 

In addition to modernising the heating and electricity system Vital Energi designed four energy saving pool covers for the facility’s swimming pools, further reducing the running costs and carbon footprint of the NSC. Although these products are a first for Vital Energi, the company’s innovative experts are constantly expanding their offerings to clients to provide a bespoke service. Vital Energi’s guarantee of annual financial and CO2 savings is a guarantee that it will stand behind for the next 15 years.



Vital Energi's Solution

The LDA appointed Cynergin, an independent consultancy, to assist with procuring the project and vetting tender proposals. Following a competitive tender process Vital Energi was appointed the contract, as its high level of skills and experience allowed it to offer the greatest level of saving to the client. Vital Energi’s design expertise, coupled with their unique 25 years experience of decentralised energy solutions enabled them to significantly improve on the LDAs initial programme, whilst also providing an energy solution with a payback of a remarkable 3.5 years.

Working within very tight timescales, Vital Energi developed a highly efficient Combined Heat and Power (CHP) engine and combined it with a number of other energy efficient technologies, resulting in the record-breaking performance of the system. At the centre of Vital Energi’s turnkey solution is a new 1000kW CHP which produces heat and electricity simultaneously from the same natural gas fuel source. The CHP system functions at a groundbreaking 93% efficiency which is a significant improvement on the average 70-80% efficiency rate of CHP units - making this one of, if not the most efficient CHP unit in the UK. 


Vital Energi’s record-breaking CHP system is setting a new industry standard for similar projects, illustrating how both the private and public sector can successfully implement low carbon energy solutions. The project illustrates how Vital Energi’s innovative external ‘CHP hub’ can be combined with the redevelopment of an existing energy centre to overcome the obstacles that are faced when modernising the energy system of a listed building. The pioneering CHP system is massively reducing the NSC’s footprint and fuel bills, showing the benefits of upgrading even the most recent of energy systems.

The NSC’s CHP system’s remarkably short payback time of 3.5 years also demonstrates the cost effectiveness of renewable technologies.


  • Guaranteed performance contract
  • Nine month build programe - delivered in five months
  • One of the most efficient CHP engines in the UK
  • Winner of Innovation Award at CHPS Awards 2011