New private wire connection to Camden’s district heating system

The Francis Crick Institute in King’s Cross is now connected to a cogeneration plant and district heating network, installed by Vital Energi, which is supplying heating and hot water to over 500 homes across Somers Town in Camden.

The institute is receiving a low carbon power supply through a private wire network to support the essential research being undertaken at the facility.

Designed and delivered by Vital Energi, the Somers Town Heat Network, which has been operational since 2015, provides heat and hot water to the residents.  It comprises a combined heat and power (CHP) unit which generates electricity. The CHP’s power supply has been directed through a private wire network to the Crick, allowing the Institute to benefit from their own decentralised electricity supply.

The Vital Energi team had to ensure there was no vibration during the works to avoid impacting the sensitive scientific equipment and experiments taking place within the building. They made the decision to hand dig a lot of the elements within a confined space over 2 floors deep (4m), which took nine months to complete.

The project presented a number of issues when the team began digging, as they had to overcome logistical issues working around two live Victorian gas mains, and dismantle a buried steel frame which was used to support the foundation wall during construction in 2010.

The location of the installation, close to Euston Station and St. Pancras International Station, presented challenges too. The area involved removal and reinstatement of cobbles, working on busy highways and walkways, and dealing with the congested existing utilities in central London.

“After overcoming numerous challenges on-site, we’re really pleased to have successfully installed the HV private wire, which will provide the Crick with a resilient electricity supply and help accelerate the Camden’s journey to net zero. We’ll manage all aspects of maintenance and compliance to ensure high standards of safety and reliability at all times.”

David O’Neill, Operations Director at Vital Energi

Lee Downes, Project Manager at the Francis Crick Institute, said:

“We are proud to have contributed to the funding of this project as part of our partnership with Camden Council, helping cut borough emissions and transition to a low carbon future. The implementation of this scheme was tricky to coordinate with seven organisations working together in a sensitive environment. We’re very pleased with the outcome.”