The Manchester Civic Quarter Heat Network (CQHN) is an innovative £20million energy centre located in the heart of the city. Its aim is to provide a sustainable heat and power system to several iconic buildings in and around the city of Manchester. CQHN marks a significant step towards enabling Manchester City Council’s ambitious net zero goals of becoming zero carbon, zero waste and climate resilient by 2038. We were tasked with the design and construction of the energy centre and heat network, as well as providing 30 year ongoing operational and maintenance support for the energy centre, which delivers a world-class energy infrastructure to a world renowned city.
CQHN will provide a highly efficient source of heat and power for some of Manchester’s most iconic buildings, acting as an enabler and facilitating a significant step towards the council’s goals of becoming carbon-neutral by 2038.
The new network technologies consist of a 2km district heating network and an energy centre containing a 3.3MWe CHP engine and two 12MW gas boilers that will generate energy for landmarks including Manchester Town Hall and Town Hall Extension, Central Library, Manchester Central Convention Centre, The Bridgewater Hall, Heron House and the Manchester Art Gallery.
Furthermore, the energy centre's flue, which has been named the ‘Tower of Light’ has become a sculptural landmark in the city’s skyline.
The Tower of Light is a 40m tall dispersion flue. During the day, polished steel reflectors will move in a wave like motion in the wind to reflect sunlight into the tower's chambers. During the night, LED lights directed at the polished reflectors will create moving light.
To ensure the Tower of Light was a positive addition to Manchester’s skyline, Manchester City Council shortlisted four of the UK’s leading architects to submit proposals for the energy centre’s design as part of a competition. We worked closely with the Council to organise the competition and support the design process. The winner of the competition was award-winning architect Tonkin Liu, who designed the energy centre to be both a structural and sculptural landmark for the city.
We installed the district heating, High Voltage (HV) and communications network utilising best practice, working closely with the Council’s highways department to ensure there was minimal disruption to commuters, residents and local businesses in such a busy city.
The network has been initially implemented to serve seven city centre civic buildings but has the potential and is intended to grow by connecting further buildings across the area in the future. The energy centre has also been future proofed to allow alternative renewable technologies to be installed.