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London Reignited - Battersea Power Station Goes Green

Aug 13, 2008
After 25 years off-line, Battersea Power Station is due for re-launch. On behalf of systems manufacturer REO Ltd. and property developers Real Estate Opportunities, Treasury Holdings Ltd. will redevelop the site so that it runs on clean fuel rather than fossils fuels, as it did when it closed in 1983. It is expected that the old building - famous for its four iconic chimneys - will now be paired alongside a new station with a 300 metre chimney. The two stations will be combined so that the new station, powered by biofuels and waste, will use the old site as an output, releasing left over water vapours from its chimneys. It is estimated that the project will cost around 4 billion, which will cover the costs of developing the new station and renovating the old one.

The rest of the budget will be spent on a new residential, retail and office space, that will come inside the parameters of the site, and stretch across 8 million square metres. Included in this proposal is the use of the original Battersea Power Station as a space for accommodation and retail outlets.

There are also plans for a 6 acre public park and a 'riverside walk' beside the Thames.

The two stations will work together, with the 300 metre solar chimney absorbing energy from the sun daily, and distributing it across the site.

It is expected that the new design will reduce energy use in the area by 67%.

The announcements look promising. But it is not the first time that there have been signs of redevelopment for the old Battersea Power Station site.

Since it's closure in 1983, several companies have bought and sold the area, each with its own plans for the building.

In 1984, a consortium including Alton Towers Ltd. battled for the lease, gaining planning permission for their proposals in 1986. From there they began work on an indoor theme park inside the old power station. Work ceased three years later due to lack of funds.

Once again the power station laid dormant, until Parkview International bought out the site's outstanding debts, gaining the freehold title in 1996 and outright possession in 2003. Their plan was not dissimilar from what is being proposed now: to use the old station as a site for restaurants, accommodation and retail outlets.

In 2005, they declared that the chimneys were unsafe, and irreparable. Again the site was stagnant. It was a year later that the current companies bought the site from Parkview International.

Perhaps, then, the Battersea Power Station site has an ominous history. But - with the government announcing in June that it plans to have half of its renewable energy coming from biomass, plus the plans for on and offshore wind projects, coming this month - the new proposals will have the backing of Westminster.

If the development plans are a success, the new chimney, which equals the size of all the old chimneys placed on top of one another, could well stand shoulder to shoulder with London's most celebrated architectural landmarks.

Last year, progressive rock band Pink Floyd celebrated the 30th anniversary of their album Animals, which featured Battersea Power Station on its front cover. When it comes to the 50th, the band could have the new solar chimney airbrushed on, taking pride of place beside its older sibling.

That would be a good development.
About the Author
Chris Woolfrey is the solar panels expert at EcoSwitch The environmental social network.
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