Electric heating from Dimplex has been selected to help keep a major south coast power station running, with a selection of industrial fan heaters, panel convectors and radiant heaters making sure workers are comfortable year-round.
Located on Southampton Water within the New Forest National Park, Fawley Power Station is an oil-fired facility, generating 1000MW of electricity from heavy fuel oil. It’s available 24 hours a day, all year round, and the Dimplex heaters make sure all areas of the site offer a pleasant environment, whatever time workers clock off.
The oil that powers the facility needs to be heated to 55°C in order to allow it to be pumped smoothly. When the power station was built in the 1960s, it was designed to use the steam produced for this task to also power the space heating system, with heaters incorporating fans to blow air over a heat exchanger and out to where it’s needed. The steam system is also used for water heating; coils run through water tanks supplying hot water throughout the site, including meeting the heavy demand for showers.
The steam heating is so vital to the operation of the power station that it needs to be regularly maintained, which involves being offline periodically. In the 1960s an electric heating system was installed as a back-up, primarily if required during these maintenance periods, and consisting of units sited adjacent to the steam heaters. However, as the main steam heating has always been extremely reliable, the back-up heaters didn’t get upgraded as newer, more energy efficient models became available.
But in recent years budgets have been trimmed, and the main steam-powered heating system has been switched off from April until the end of September, which, thanks to the British climate, has left workers shivering on chilly summer days. And just as importantly, the fluctuating temperatures in the store areas were far from ideal for the sensitive technical components used on site.
Mark Saunders, electrical engineer at the site, approached Dimplex’s commercial heating team with a view to upgrading the electric heating system to the latest energy-saving technology. He was already very familiar with the Dimplex name and its reputation for high quality, reliable products, having worked as an electrical contractor as well as an electrical engineer in several industries.
Mark says: “I believe with Dimplex, you get a good name and a good product. What’s more, the team at Dimplex was extremely helpful, coming out for a site visit and looking at all the locations around the facility to ensure we found the best solution. The ‘new for old’ replacement with the latest appliances was able to use the positions of the existing heaters, so installation was straightforward.”
Electric heating’s a good choice for an industrial installation like Fawley, as it brings no fuel storage worries. In addition, maintenance requirements are very much lower and less complicated than appliances running on other fuels.
Holding up to £2m of critical parts, the stores area plays a vital role in the running and maintenance of the power station and this area is now heated by multiple Dimplex CFH heaters.
Operated from a single controller for ease of use, they use powerful centrifugal blowers for effective heating in more challenging environments, helping to keep critical parts ‘corrosion-free’ and workers warm too. In addition, a small welding bay which is in frequent use is also heated by two CFH units using a single controller.
The welfare block, which houses showers and locker areas, obviously needs to be warm for workers when they start and end their shifts. Dimplex PLX ultra-slim panel convector heaters are used here, for fast, effective heat when needed. The PLXs feature a high accuracy electronic thermostat, maximising energy efficiency by reducing wasteful temperature drift, which also makes for a stable user environment.
In addition, radiant heaters are used to heat outbuildings in several locations around the site. The standalone heaters are wired to a timer switch so workers using the area don’t need to worry about switching the unit off when leaving.
Mark says: “The Dimplex heating is kept switched on all the time, with the appliances’ sensitive thermostats controlling the periods of operation to keep running costs down, even though the power station operates round the clock. The Dimplex units make sure that we provide a comfortable working environment, whether the main steam-powered heating is running or not.”