Hmm, surely a tower like this has either got to be a similar height to Toronto's CN Tower /Berlin's TV Tower/Tokyo Tower (i.e. taller than residential/domestic towers and an iconic flourish to the skyline) or it shouldn't be built at all. From the blurb above it doesn't sound like it's being framed as a major project for Manchester...
Put it this way. With this in-front of Axis, 10-12 and Owen Street, it will look striking. A very nice design and addition to the city centre.
The project, which includes a 40m flue, will be a permanent addition to Manchester’s skyline and four of the UK’s most renowned architecture practices were shortlisted to submit designs as part of a competition to ensure the energy centre would be a positive addition to Manchester’s Civic Quarter.
It burns gas, so all the usual things you'd expect from a boiler.
I'm a big fan of this scheme (not necessarily the design of the flue), as district heating networks (when done right) are a big step forward in terms of efficiency and de-centralisation of power generation.
It may seem a little odd to consider what is essentially a mini gas power plant as low carbon, but the difference with a CHP is it produces electricity at source so it's more efficient than getting it from the grid (lots of inefficiencies involved in travel across the grid). It also generates heat as a by-product (just like a conventional power station with it's big cooling towers) only in this case it will be used to heat water and supply the local area.
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