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Innovative Project Will Use Electricity Transformers to Heat Homes

image credit: National Grid
Julian Jackson's picture
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  • Aug 27, 2021

The UK's National Grid and energy supplier SSE pilot a scheme to use waste heat from local transformers to heat buildings

SSE Energy Solutions and the UK National Grid have just revealed an exciting new project that could improve efficiency by capturing waste heat from electricity transformers and sub-stations to generate hot water and space heating for residences and businesses.


Credit: SSE

Local electricity transformers give off heat and need cooling systems. Normally this is wasted to the environment, but the proposed heat recovery project is expected to reduce heat network carbon emissions by more than 40% versus traditional gas-powered systems. The technology looks like it could be part of the transition to net-zero heat when applied to transformers served by 100 per cent renewable electricity from wind, solar or other green power sources.

The project has the potential to avoid millions of tonnes of carbon emissions annually year if installed on National Grid's network of transformers across England and Wales, harnessing the waste heat through SSE heat networks to serve users in nearby areas.

"Electric power transformers generate huge amounts of heat as a by-product when electricity flows through them. At the moment, this heat is just vented directly into the atmosphere and wasted." Nathan Sanders, Managing Director at SSE Energy Solutions says, "By their very nature, electricity transformers are primarily located where people live, work and consume energy meaning that they have the potential to be incredibly valuable community assets if we apply a bit of clever thinking.

"This groundbreaking project aims to capture that waste heat and effectively turn transformers into community boilers' that serve local heat networks with a low or even zero-carbon alternative to fossil-fuel powered heat sources such as gas boilers.

"We see heat networks as a key part of the UK's future low carbon energy infrastructure, enabling us to exploit waste heat sources and use these to heat homes and businesses across the country.”

SSE Energy Solutions' heat recovery technology is currently undergoing a preliminary trial at National Grid's Deeside Centre for Innovation, the only place in Europe where electricity networks' assets can be tested off-grid. The facility is designed as a unique environment for development and practical application of new technologies and systems.

Linda Stevens's picture
Linda Stevens on Aug 27, 2021

What a great idea! I remember a story from friends at a utility in Houston. A person had built an extension to their house that included a pad-mounted transformer that was in their yard. They called the utility because it would get hot. They were using it as a side table!  But it did help heat the room during the winter!  

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Thank Julian for the Post!
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