District heating upgrade progresses at UK university

District energy firm Vital Energi has announced its progress on a £2 million ($2.8 million) biomass-fuelled district heating project at the UK’s University of York.  

The firm said it has installed the heating pipework as well as high voltage cabling, gas pipework, mains cold water pipework and communications cabling to the university’s new £25 million Piazza Building.  

In addition to expanding the heating network, the scope of Vital Energi’s contract includes extending and upgrading the current electrical substation.

The three storey Piazza Building will include teaching facilities for the new International Pathway College, seminar rooms, a 350-seat lecture theatre, a 300-seat restaurant, a library and conference facilities.

The university’s £750 million expansion programme is taking place in four phases. During the first phase, Vital Energi installed a new multi-utility infrastructure corridor which is planned to be extended to connect to new buildings as they are constructed. During phase two, the firm extended the multi-utility corridor and installed two new combined heat and power (CHP) engines and one biomass boiler.

The firm has been contracted to operate and maintain the CHP engines and boiler for the next five years, and to manage the biomass fuel purchase process on behalf of the university. 

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