Gravel Aquifer Source Heat Pump, Smart Controls and Flat Heating Design

Royal Borough of Greenwich

Sustainable Energy have completed a project for the Royal Borough of Greenwich (RBG) Council, supported by Sharing Cities, an EU Horizon 2020 Smart Cities and Communities Programme, that brings together 30 partner organisations and 6 countries and seeks to apply a ‘digital first’ approach to the areas of energy and transport in the three lead cities of London, Lisbon and Milan.


The project addressed the space heating and domestic hot water requirements for three RBG social housing blocks. Heat source options assessed included a river source heat pump, gravel aquifer source heat pump, chalk aquifer source heat pump and a proposed combined heat and power plant.


We were commissioned to:

  • Establish the business as usual case for energy use, energy costs, consumer costs, repair and maintenance costs
  • Establish energy and CO2e balances based on space heating and domestic hot water demand and a heat supply from heat pumps and proposed CHP plant
  • Provide an optimised system design up to and including the interface with the building heat system, accounting for secondary side operating requirements
  • Dimension secondary side heating installations such as radiators, risers and laterals
  • Design and size the heat network, water treatment pumping etc.
  • Establish each option’s implementation feasibility including production of the preliminary plant and equipment layout drawings to the extent necessary to inform the option choice
  • Develop a techno-economic model accounting for the apartment heat distribution system options to identify the preferred option
  • Establish smart control system principles and produce a signal interface schedule (based on smart control and modelled predictive control)
  • Prepare a preliminary procurement specification including principles of control and operation based on predictive control strategy
  • Develop an outline implementation programme, including an indicative timeline
  • Work with project partners including Imperial College, Siemens and Danfoss


The preferred option is a heat pump utilising the gravel aquifer. The energy centre control strategy will prioritise and optimise the operation of the heat pumps and thermal stores. A Sustainable Energy Management System (SEMS) will collect data such as weather forecasts, carbon intensity in the electricity grid, local air pollution forecasts, and energy price data forecasts< It will interact with a local control system to maximise efficiency, reduce operating costs, maximise CO2 reduction and consider local air quality.

The procurement phase of the project is currently underway and we are assisting RBG with further technical advice on the design, specification, procurement and implementation of the scheme.