Tri-generation in action: King’s Cross’ district cooling network goes live

Metropolitan’s district cooling network at King’s Cross, London’s most vibrant neighbourhood, went live today. Serving the area north of the Regent’s Canal, the network will provide carbon-efficient cooling ultimately to four commercial and three residential buildings, and has been designed to enable later expansion to further buildings and customers. 

The cooling pod at King's Cross

The cooling pod at King’s Cross – Photo John Sturrock

The new district cooling network completes the implementation of tri-generation – the harnessing together of heat, power and cooling – at King’s Cross.  Tri-generation achieves significant carbon-emission savings, delivering on the project’s sustainability targets. The new cooling network operates alongside Metropolitan’s district heat network which has been providing heat and power for King’s Cross since 2013.

District cooling offers important benefits to the residents and commercial management companies at King’s Cross. The centralised cooling system, consisting of the Cooling Pod and pipe network, removes the need to install and manage separate systems for each building, lowering running costs and assisting buildings to achieve higher BREEAM ratings.

The location for the Cooling Pod at King’s Cross presented a number of design, engineering and building challenges. It occupies a narrow strip of land next to the HS1 Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL).  Maximising the limited space available to accommodate the cooling plant and towers was the first challenge and required an innovative design with a cantilevered first floor. The second challenge was to eliminate any risk of pluming drifting across the rail line and affecting train operation. The utilisation of three different types of chillers – absorption, water-cooled and air-cooled – together with a sophisticated Building Management System resolved these issues and optimised the cost- and carbon-efficient running of the network.

Whilst an essentially functional building, the façade next to the railway was a key focus for architects Allies & Morrison, who wanted it to engage with the movement of the trains as they pass the 120m length of the building.  A number of folded metal “fins” give the building a dynamic profile, whilst still providing a largely open area for air intake for the cooling towers. The result is a unique and striking building which passengers travelling in and out of St Pancras can admire.

Dave Elwood, Senior Project Manager at Argent, welcoming the delivery of cooling at King’s Cross, commented: “One of the pillars of the King’s Cross development is a commitment to build sustainably and for the long term. Working with a single provider, Metropolitan, to deliver all the energy and utilities infrastructure has enabled the implementation of flexible, future-proof solutions for the community; the new district cooling network is an important next step in the process.”

John Marsh, Managing Director of Metropolitan Infrastructure, noted that the district cooling network would have real benefits for customers: “The advantages extend beyond the expected reduction in running costs and capital savings. Customers of the district heating network are protected by the scheme’s membership of the Heat Trust, a self-regulatory initiative which recognises best practice, and we are confident that district cooling systems will also be covered under the scheme in the near future.”

The district cooling network at King’s Cross is just one part of the complete utility infrastructure delivered by Metropolitan there, which includes district heating, electricity, ultrafast Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH), gas, water, and wastewater.

Metropolitan Infrastructure