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Sage Gateshead continues mission to be net zero by 2030.

Sage Gateshead – Gateshead District Energy Scheme Case Study

In 2017, Sage Gateshead became a member of Gateshead District Energy scheme. Since then, we have saved 4 % on the costs of our annual energy bill and significantly lowered the carbon footprint of our building.

About Sage Gateshead

Sage Gateshead is an international music centre and charity located in the North East of England. We are for artists, for audiences, for the North East, and for the long term.

In normal years, we welcome over two million visitors through our doors. More than 400 concerts feature all styles of music by local, regional and international artists, and take place all year round. Our music-making and learning activities happen not just in our venue, but across the region, with 200,000 people of all ages taking part in over 10,000 music classes and workshops.

Our iconic building, designed by renowned architects Foster + Partners, is home to Royal Northern Sinfonia, and is a place where emerging artists are nurtured through dedicated programmes and festivals. We also run a Young People’s Programme that offers musical support to thousands of local young people every year, from their earliest experiences, through primary and secondary school, all the way up to our pre-professional level Centre for Advanced training and beyond. Inclusion is at the heart of everything we do.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, while our building was closed to audiences, we launched a Digital Stage, featuring live-streamed performances by Royal Northern Sinfonia and artists across genres. We delivered thousands of digital sessions for more than 13,000 children and young people and supported 200 artists through commissions, bursaries and wellbeing advice.

Now, as our charity enters a recovery phase, our building has reopened and is full of music again, enjoyed by audiences both in person and at home through our hybrid programme.

We understand that the climate crisis is a critical threat to our audiences, artists, region and planet. We put environmental responsibility at the heart of our venue, and work with artists and audiences to reduce emissions and make change.

About Gateshead District Energy Scheme

Gateshead District Energy Scheme opened in March 2017, realising Gateshead Council’s ambition to provide low cost, low carbon energy for Gateshead town centre and Gateshead Quays.

This new, low carbon energy centre generates both heat and power for buildings like Sage Gateshead, BALTIC, the Shipley Art Gallery and Gateshead College via a new 5km underground network of heat pipes and high voltage ‘private-wire’ electricity cables. 

The Low Carbon Energy Centre in Gateshead

The Gateshead scheme was judged to be a “truly visionary” project by the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE) at its 50th anniversary awards ceremony at the Science Museum in London, and deemed one of the most unique projects of its nature in the country.

District energy schemes are a means to generate heat and power locally for customers, in a way that is more efficient than conventional power stations. They require a centralised energy centre to generate heat and power for customers. This heat is distributed via an underground network of super insulated heating pipes.

The Gateshead scheme is ‘heat-lead’, which means its energy centre runs to provide customers with heat requirements, first and foremost. When heat is being provided from the gas CHP engines, electricity is also generated.

In most schemes, this electricity is exported into the national grid. However, in Gateshead, the electricity is supplied direct to customers through a network of ‘private wires’. This allows us to provide electricity at a lower cost to customers, reducing the costs and losses of exporting into the national grid.

The Future

The scheme aims to continually reduce the carbon emission of energy supplied to customers, with the ambition of becoming zero carbon by 2030. The gas combined heat and power engines installed initially were the first step to a zero-carbon future. Gateshead Energy Company has a 5-year business plan to reduce emissions to zero by 2030 through:

  • Building and operating a 6 megawatt mine water heat pump energy centre, that will supplement the network with heat recovered from abandoned mineworking
  • Currently, ca. 0.5 megawatt of solar PV is connected to the network, but plans are progressing to increase capacity by 2025
  • The ability to use mine water for a cooling network to nearby developments will be developed further, to also provide zero carbon cooling
  • Increasingly the network will connect electric vehicle charging points, to make low carbon power available to EVs of customers and visitors

How Joining Gateshead District Energy Scheme Helped Sage Gateshead

Being part of Gateshead District Energy Scheme has allowed Sage Gateshead to:

  • Reduce heating and power costs by 4% as compared to prevailing market rates of heat and power costs 
  • Participate in a scheme which will delivers significant carbon savings not just to Sage Gateshead, but to our wider Gateshead region. Using heat from the District Energy Scheme allows us to emit around 13% less carbon than if we used gas from a traditional supplier.
  • Model the changes in behaviour we know are necessary in order to create a just, sustainable and environmentally responsible future for the planet and its peoples.