Manchester’s new ‘Tower of Light’ feature is now finished and this is what it means

17th August 2020

The final sections have now been installed to Manchester city centre’s brand new 40m high Tower of Light, but what exactly is the feature for?

The finishing touches to the feature were added overnight to minimise local disruption.

The Tower of Light was officially revealed to the public last week, generating widespread conversation and being met with mixed reactions from Mancunians – particularly with reference to its visual appearance as a new contribution to the city’s ever-changing skyline – but this feature has a much greater significance than may be initially realised.

The finalisation of the Tower of Light is said to mark a significant milestone in the Manchester Civic Quarter Heat Network project.

The tower is made up of nine sections called ‘drums’, each one measuring 4m wide, 6m long and 4m high, and there is 1.8m crown section. Once the Civic Quarter Heat Network project is complete, the Tower of Light will act as the chimney for the low-carbon energy centre. The network will generate low-carbon heat and power for the city to help Manchester reach its ambition of becoming zero-carbon by 2038 at the latest.

The scheme is projected to save an initial 1,600 tonnes of carbon emissions per year and the energy centre will become even more efficient as additional buildings are connected.

According to architects Tonkin Liu and Manchester City Council, the Tower of Light will initially serve seven iconic city centre buildings and has the potential to grow by connecting further buildings across the city centre in the future.

The first buildings to be connected to the network will be Manchester Town Hall and Town Hall Extension, Central Library, Manchester Central Convention Centre, The Bridgewater Hall, Heron House and the Manchester Art Gallery.

Containing a 3.3MWe CHP engine and two 12MW gas boilers, the Tower of Light’s energy centre is projected to generate electricity and harness the recovered heat from this process for distribution via a 2km district heating network, which will supply heat for the buildings.

The scheme has been part-funded by a £2.87m grant from the government’s Heat Network Investment Project (HNIP), with Manchester City Council being one of the first local authorities to receive this funding.

Councillor Angeliki Stogia – Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for the Environment, Planning and Transport – said: “The Tower of Light is an impressive new landmark for Manchester and a symbol of Manchester’s aim of becoming a zero-carbon city by 2038 at the latest.

“On completion, the Civic Quarter Heat Network project will realise significant carbon savings, supporting the council’s current plan to halve its own emissions by 2025, which will be an important milestone on the road to the city meeting its ambitious goal.”

Anthony Shawcross – Senior Construction Manager for Vital Energi – said: “This project is much more intricate than a standard flue due to its complex geometry, but will hopefully become an iconic part of Manchester’s skyline.

“We’re delighted with how smoothly the installation went and we hope the people of Manchester will now enjoy it for many years.”

All work on the Civic Quarter Heat Network project is scheduled to be completed before the end of 2020.

You can find out more via the Manchester City Council website here.

Written by
Emily Sergeant

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