Huge gas boilers to be built under Cardiff’s Eastern Bay Link Road
Alex Seabrook, local democracy reporter
Huge gas boilers could soon be built underneath the Eastern Bay Link Road in Cardiff as part of a proposed heat network.
Four 2.5 megawatt boilers would form a backup energy supply for the district heat network, which will supply low carbon heating to several major public buildings including the Wales Millenium Centre, the Senedd and County Hall.
Most of the heat will come from the Viridor waste incinerator, close to where the backup boilers will be built. But the gas boilers should ensure that buildings aren’t left without heat, if none is available from Viridor, during repairs or maintenance.
Sustainable Energy Ltd, an engineering company, is applying for planning permission to build the boilers — known as an ‘energy centre’ — underneath the link road. Currently there is an empty gap under the road, where the boilers are planned.
A spokesman for Sustainable Energy, in planning documents, said: “The energy centre will form a critical part of the Cardiff heat network currently under development by Cardiff council.
“The Cardiff heat network will allow low carbon heat from the Viridor energy recovery facility to be recovered and supplied initially to 11 key buildings, comprising a total heat demand of 12,460 megawatt hours per year.
“The energy centre will only provide heat to the network via gas boilers during periods when heat is not available from the Viridor energy recovery facility, due to maintenance or repairs, which is anticipated to be a maximum of six weeks of the year.”
Heat networks work by using a network of mostly underground pipes running hot water from a generator to buildings. They emit less carbon dioxide than burning natural gas in boilers within individual buildings, and are seen as critical in decarbonising heating.
Cardiff council is planning to install a heat network across Butetown and the Bay — which would supply heat to buildings like the new indoor arena at Cardiff Bay, Butetown Hub, Nelson House, Butetown Community Centre, Cardiff and Vale College, and Tresillian House.
Future phases of the district heat network could see other major public buildings included like the Magistrates Court, prison, St Davids 2 Centre, and Cardiff Bay police station, as well as homes and businesses.
The A4232 Eastern Bay Link Road, built in 2016 and 2017, runs from the Queen’s Gate roundabout in Cardiff Bay to Ocean Way and Rover Way in Splott.
Planning officers at Cardiff council have not yet approved permission for the four gas boilers.