Remeha CHP is going swimmingly at leisure centre

Hotel, Sport & Leisure Thu, Jan 9, 2020 11:16 AM

Cheshire East Council has installed a Remeha R-Gen Combined Heat and Power (CHP) unit alongside Remeha high-efficiency condensing boilers at Macclesfield Leisure Centre to generate energy-efficient heat and power.

The move comes as part of Cheshire East Council’s wider commitments to reduce energy consumption and environmental impact across its estates, with the longer-term ambition of becoming carbon neutral by 2025.

The key requirements of the Council’s energy department were to explore ways of improving the energy performance of Macclesfield Leisure Centre and reduce energy costs without minimising comfort levels and visitor satisfaction.

Engie, the Council’s principal contractor and FM Provider, employed Salford-based consulting engineers SVM-Building Services Design (SVM-BSD) to carry out a survey of the mechanical installation to evaluate the condition of the major items of plant serving the facilities.

The leisure centre had been relying on 30-year-old non-condensing boilers for its heating and hot water provision. Given that 60% of the existing plant was not operational and beyond repair, replacement was essential to avoid an emergency situation and potential building closure.

Cheshire East Council had a programme in place to upgrade the plant as part of multiple refurbishment projects at the Centre. As the energy department team were keen to introduce CHP technology, SVM-BSD’s recommendation was to refurbish the heating system with a new ultra-low NOx condensing CHP unit operating in conjunction with high efficiency condensing boilers.

CHP is effectively a super-efficient micro power station that generates heat and power in a single process at the point of use. Instead of rejecting the ‘waste’ heat to atmosphere like traditional power stations, the heat generated by CHP can be re-used to provide high grade heating and hot water.

Sites with year-round requirements for electricity and heat are well suited to using CHP. Swimming pools provide the perfect circumstances for this, making CHP a particularly effective solution for Macclesfield Leisure Centre.

“CHP was the obvious choice for us when the opportunity became available for the Council energy department to improve the efficiency of Macclesfield Leisure Centre,” said Colin Farrelly, Energy Manager at Cheshire East Council.

“The leisure centre is one of our largest energy users and, as such, the impact of applying CHP will be significant across the whole estate.”

The design scoped by SVM-BSD identified a Remeha R-Gen 50/100kW ultra-low NOx condensing CHP unit working in conjunction with six Remeha Quinta Ace 160 high-efficiency condensing boilers to optimise overall system efficiency. The R-Gen CHP unit operates as the lead boiler with the condensing boilers providing additional heat during peak periods when required.

“We had already specified Remeha boilers on this project as we are very familiar with them and have found them to be reliable and efficient throughout their lifecycle,” said Sean Langton, Director at SVM-BSD.

“Remeha offer excellent Continuing Professional Development (CPD) seminars on CHP and Boilers which we found extremely informative and, as a result, we commissioned them to look at the project,” he continued.

Minimising disruption was the key concern for Engie as the leisure centre needed to remain open throughout the works.

“Ensuring that the building and its services were unaffected during the works required careful planning, co-ordination and collaboration,” explained Karl Durber, Engie’s Senior Projects Manager. “Working in a live environment can present complex logistical challenges. But this was a really good team effort with regular progress meetings ensuring excellent communication throughout the project.”

For SVM-BSD, there were clear advantage of using one supplier for all the components.

“Working with Remeha has ensured a smooth delivery and installation process,” said Sean. “It will also simplify future maintenance and servicing, as all spare parts can be accessed immediately from a central hub.”

Paul Towler, Director at CM Oxendale, the project M&E Contractor agreed. “Having one point of contact certainly makes life much easier,” he said. “A major benefit for us is that the Remeha team have an in-depth understanding of both technologies which has resulted in a well-integrated system. They supported us throughout, from the design stage and hydraulic arrangement to the final ‘fine tuning’ of the system for optimum performance.”

The long-term maintenance of the equipment has also been addressed with the implementation of a Remeha service plan. This will ensure that the CHP operates continuously and at optimum performance, maximising lifetime efficiency and related benefits.

As an estimated 85% of reported CHP faults are able to be corrected and reset remotely, enabling remote monitoring is an important factor in the smooth running of the CHP.

From an FM perspective, the remote monitoring service at Macclesfield Leisure Centre provides Engie with peace of mind that, if a problem should occur, it can be easily resolved – often without the need for a service visit.

Now commissioned and fully operational, the CHP has been running continuously for the last two months, using all of the 100kW of heat it generates per hour to heat the swimming pool, provide space heating throughout the leisure centre, feed the Air Handling Units and serve the hot water demand.

CHP typically reduces energy bills by around 30%, but the ability of CHP to generate on-site electricity at lower gas prices boosts returns still further. The greater the ‘spark spread’ – or difference between gas and electricity costs – the greater the savings from a CHP system. So, with electricity prices currently at around four times the cost of gas, Cheshire East Council is anticipating significant energy and cost savings at Macclesfield Leisure Centre in the months ahead.

The scheme has proved so successful that the Council is installing a second Remeha R-Gen CHP unit in another of its leisure centres imminently.

“Since 2009, when Cheshire East Council was established as part of structural changes, the local authority has reduced its CO2 by 40%,” added Colin. “Alongside our environmental goals, the Council has the ambition to improve the health of residents by providing them with access to leisure centres. So, it makes perfect sense to make them as efficient as possible – and CHP is helping us do just that.”

Macclesfield Leisure Centre is managed by the health and wellbeing charity Everybody Sport and Recreation.

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