British Construction Warms to Geothermal Sheet Piles
The construction sector is responding to well to the challenge of Britain becoming a net zero-carbon economy by 2050 and sheet piles are playing their part in new thinking across the globe.
Energy sheet piles, also known as geothermal sheet piles, are already being talked up by construction giants such as Costain, which is claiming that, by 2023, its clients will be given at least one low-carbon option to potentially select, whenever Costain tenders for work. As Costain says, geothermal sheet piles can play their part within this drive towards a greener construction sector.
Energy sheet piles have already been tested, to assess their performance and benchmark them against thermal concrete secant piles. An installation carried out in Milton Keynes in 2016, in conjunction with the Steel Piling Group of which Sheet Piling (UK) Ltd is a member, found them to be a viable alternative to concrete piles.
This exercise was carried out with piles driven into 6 metres of stiff chalky boulder clay laying on top of stiff Oxford clay. The belief is that geothermal sheet piles will have an even better energy performance when used in watery environments such as ports, canals and rivers, because water has higher thermal conductivity than air.
In a geothermal sheet pile, all that is required to make use of the high thermal conductivity of steel is a simple loop installation system. Piles are constructed with a closed ground source heat pump system, so that they can deliver either heating or cooling energy to new buildings. This can help reduce the cost of heating and air-conditioning, whilst also offering a greener approach to a construction project.
This new use of sheet piles is an exciting one, with lots of opportunities likely to present themselves in the future. It makes great use of naturally occurring sources of heat – water and earth – unlocking the potential of the natural environment for low-carbon approaches to construction.
Whilst Sheet Piling (UK) Ltd is not yet involved with this technology, we are sure we very soon will be, as specifiers realise that the traditional way of doing things may not necessarily deliver when it comes to low or zero-carbon targets.- Ends -
NOTES TO EDITORS
Sheet Piling (UK) Limited is one of the UK's leading piling contractors. Owning and operating a comprehensive range of specialist piling equipment Sheet Piling (UK) Ltd also carry extensive stocks of new and used piles enabling rapid reaction to any urgent requirements or emergency situations.