Royal Docks confirmed as the first UK home for pioneering ectogrid™ low carbon energy network

Regeneration news

Royal Docks confirmed as the first UK home for pioneering ectogrid™ low carbon energy network

E.ON and Lendlease have signed an agreement to develop a pioneering low carbon energy network that will serve about 6,500 new homes and business properties at Silvertown in East London.

  • Heat pump-based system provides 88% lower emissions than gas boiler alternative
  • Low carbon network will serve about 6,500 homes as well as leisure, cultural and community facilities and workspaces at the Silvertown development in East London

The 760,000 sqm Silvertown site will be the UK’s first development of E.ON’s pioneering ectogrid™ system, an energy sharing network based on balancing heat pump and cooling technology that, once complete, will save approximately 4,000 tonnes of CO2 a year – 88% lower emissions than from traditional gas boilers.

Silvertown is being transformed as a vibrant new heart for the Royal Docks and a new visitor destination for London. Plans include the restoration of the iconic Millennium Mills and construction of about 6,500 homes alongside next-generation workspace, shops, restaurants, bars and a water sports centre. The regeneration of the area will deliver significant opportunities for the local community, creating more than 6,000 new jobs.

The core principle of ectogrid™ is to provide heating and cooling by first using existing energy sources available locally, such as air, water or ground. Each connected building sends excess heating or cooling to other buildings as needed, and by sharing, balancing, and storing energy in rotation, ectogrid™ uses all available energy before adding any ‘new’ energy, drastically reducing consumption, costs and environmental impact.

Chris Norbury, Chief Executive of E.ON UK, said: ”Silvertown is a huge milestone for UK developments as this is the first ectogrid™ for Britain. It’s fantastic we can bring this to life in such an iconic redevelopment area as the Royal Docks. Allied to our recent investments in battery storage in Uskmouth, solar at the Port of Liverpool and our geothermal energy solution for the Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham, this is yet another example of E.ON stepping up as playmaker in the energy transition and investing at scale in the UK’s energy future.

“Making energy more affordable and sustainable is a critical element of growing the UK economy and it cannot be achieved without an ambition to deliver huge societal benefit too – creating opportunities for people across the country and delivering innovative change to bring real world benefits felt far beyond the world of energy alone.”

Ed Mayes, Development Director for Silvertown, said: “Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do at Lendlease and a low-carbon energy network is central to our vision for Silvertown. We’re delighted to extend our relationship with E.ON and to be working with them to deliver their pioneering ectogrid™ in the UK for the first time.

“Unlocking this complex site is the result of close partnerships – including the London Borough of Newham, the GLA, Homes England, and The Guinness Partnership – and in E.ON we have secured an equally strong partner to support us in delivering on our zero-carbon ambitions."

Silvertown is a key scheme as we work to bring East London’s Royal Docks back to its former glory and I am pleased we have been able to embrace this innovative approach to district heating that will supply low carbon heat to this important site while ensuring bills are more affordable. The Mayor is determined to move London towards a greener future and aim to deliver net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. Schemes like this prove that it is possible to deliver the housing and the low carbon heat that London needs by embracing innovative approaches that help tackle the climate emergency and create a greener city for all Londoners.

Tom Copley, Deputy Mayor for Housing and Residential Development

Darren Makin, Director of Community Wealth Building at Newham Council, said: “Silvertown's adoption of E.ON’s ectogrid™ marks a significant step forward in our commitment to a more inclusive and sustainable borough. Last year we launched the UK’s first Just Transition Plan, an urgent blueprint for us and our partners to prioritise cutting CO2 emissions, as well as addressing the unequal impacts of climate change on society. This pioneering low-carbon energy network will not only drastically reduce emissions but also enhance the quality of life for our residents and create a healthier, more prosperous community. The London Borough of Newham is proud to support this initiative, which aligns perfectly with our vision for a greener, more sustainable future.”

ectogrid™ is a first for the UK but is already in use at sustainable developments across Europe such as Medicon Village in Lund, southern Sweden and the MIND Milan Innovation District in Italy.

Alongside environmental benefits, the development will inspire improved comfort and health, green job creation, energy security, reduced levels of fuel poverty, better air quality and reduced noise, new economic development and promote a more circular economy.

When complete, Silvertown will be the largest ambient temperature heating and cooling network in UK.

ectogrid™ was a winner in the COP28 Energy Transition Changemakers award for energy efficiency. The Energy Transition Changemakers initiative was brought to life by the COP28 Presidency to foster collaboration and share knowledge in innovative and scalable decarbonisation projects around the world.

Working with the London Borough of Newham and the Royal Docks there is the potential for the network to supply other developments in the Royal Docks area, supporting the decarbonisation of heating across the district.

Currently, half of the Europe’s total energy consumption is dedicated to heating and cooling, with nearly 80% derived from non-renewable sources, often fossil fuels. With the majority (70%) of Europe’s population living in urban areas, growing urbanisation will further escalate the demand for both heating and cooling.

What is ectogrid™?
ectogrid™ is a heating and cooling solution for city districts and industries that reduces the supplied energy by up to 75%. Inspired by ectothermic (cold-blooded) animals, it adapts to local conditions and makes the most of the energy available in its surroundings.

New energy is added only when all available energy has been shared between buildings or harnessed from available sources nearby. This is done by a system of interconnected heat pumps and chillers on a common low temperature grid that uses an intelligent digital platform to optimise efficiency.

Two-In-One – One system for heating and cooling allows energy sharing while avoiding the need for separate networks - future-proofing cities for increased cooling needs.

Circular – The low temperature grid unlocks the potential to integrate low-grade energy waste and to share surplus energy between buildings, reducing the climate footprint.

Decentralised – Rather than relying on large scale generation plants, ectogrid™ uses small- heat pumps and chillers in each building.

Local – In Europe, there is as much waste heat energy as total heat consumption across the continent2. This waste heat mostly comes from sources like industries, data centres or supermarkets, with the potential to add natural energy sources available locally such as air, water or ground.