Transforming district energy in Boston and Cambridge

As the Vicinity teams work hard to decarbonize our facilities across the country, we are sharing the key updates our facilities are undergoing during this transformation. The electrification of our operations is well underway in Boston and Cambridge, as our facilities across the country prepare to undergo similar processes in the coming months and years.

We are transforming our historic Kendall facility to meet our communities’ and customers’ needs by leveraging existing infrastructure and installing innovative technologies such as an industrial-scale electric boiler, a river-based heat pump complex, and thermal storage. The electrification of our operations will allow us to offer eSteam™, a carbon-free, renewable energy solution, to decarbonize our customers’ buildings and communities.

Learn more about the various updates we’re making to decarbonize our Boston and Cambridge operations below and stay tuned for all future updates on our progress.

 

June 2024 update

As soon as the electric boiler arrived at Vicinity’s Kendall facility, the team wasted no time in beginning the installation work required to bring this project to life. During the months of April and May, structural steelwork was completed to allow access for operation and provide a framework for mechanical and electrical systems. Crews have been hard at work installing auxiliary pumps, boiler trim, steam piping, and valves that will integrate the boiler into the facility’s existing systems.

Turbine hall access platform and safety rails

 

turbine hall boiler access platform and safety rails

View of the completed access platform and safety rails surrounding the 42MW electric boiler that was installed at our Kendall facility.

Turbine hall access platform and structural support framework

 

boiler access platform and structural support framework

Additional view of the completed access platform and the structural support framework for the electric boiler. 

Main steam outlet valves and piping

 

main steam outlet valves and piping

Pictured are the main steam outlet valves and piping connected to the electric boiler that will integrate the boiler into the Kendall facility’s existing systems.

Heat pump complex compressor space

 

man stands and looks at where heat pump compressor will be located

Vicinity’s Vice President of Operations Don Silvia looks up at the space where the compressor of our industrial-scale heat pump complex will be installed. The heat pump complex is currently in development.

March 2024 update

At the end of March, our first industrial-scale 42MW electric boiler was installed! After months of preparing our Kendall, MA facility for its arrival and installation, our team successfully carried out the complex process of installing this large-scale technology. The electric boiler is expected to be fully operational by the summer of 2024, and begin serving our Boston and Cambridge customers with carbon-free eSteam™.

Electric boiler installation

 

The electric boiler was lifted into the area where it was installed from its holding place in another area of our Kendall facility.

Electric boiler installation

 

After entering the facility, the electric boiler was slowly transported across the hall to be lowered onto the platform.

Electric boiler installation

 

The electric boiler being lowered onto the platform where it was installed.

 

March 2024 update

In March, our team got to work preparing the space in our Kendall facility where the 42MW electric boiler will be installed. This area is being prepped, and recently our team finished assembling the platform that the electric boiler will rest upon once installed. The 42MW electric boiler has arrived at our Kendall facility and is expected to be fully operational by the summer of 2024.

Electric boiler platform

 

steelwork electric boiler

The installation of our industrial-scale electric boiler is underway at our Kendall facility. Recently, our team got to work building the platform where the electric boiler will rest upon once it is installed.

Electric boiler platform

 

The site where the 42MW industrial-scale electric boiler will be installed to produce carbon-free electrified steam at our Kendall facility. This area previously held a steam turbine.

 

February 2024 update

Several upgrades are taking place throughout February as part of our Kendall facility’s electrification transformation. Several pieces of equipment are being removed, demolished, or prepared to be demolished, to make room for our more sustainable and efficient systems.

The areas that will be home to these technologies are being prepared for their installation, with various demolition projects underway and steelwork being prepared. The 42MW electric boiler has arrived at our Kendall facility and is expected to be fully operational by the summer of 2024. The 35MW industrial-scale heat pump complex is anticipated to enter service at our Kendall facility in 2028.

Electrification and efficiency upgrades and preparations begin

 

steam turbine deconstruction

After completing the demolition process for the first steam turbine to make way for the industrial-scale electric boiler, our team has commenced preparations for the demolition of a second steam turbine. Steam turbine one had been out of service due to previous upgrades to the facility and provided the ideal location for the first electrode boiler. This second turbine is being removed to make way for the industrial-scale heat pump steam compressor equipment. The demolition is expected to start in late spring 2024.

Electrification and efficiency upgrades and preparations begin

 

coal shoot Kendall facility

The Kendall facility was originally designed to burn coal as its primary fuel source. Because district energy systems are fuel agnostic, coal was gradually replaced with more sustainable fuels such as oil, natural gas, and the combined heat and power (CHP) process used today. Our team is working to remove these coal chutes at our Kendall facility to make room for the industrial-scale heat pump complex.

Electrification and efficiency upgrades and preparations begin

 

air cooled condensers

Efficiency upgrades are underway on the roof of our Kendall facility. Pictured are the facility’s original air-cooled condensers, which work to condense excess steam we produce that, under previous plant ownership, had been discharged to the river. The air-cooled condensers were an early step towards sustainability this team has undertaken. This month, new condensers are being installed to make important efficiency gains in our steam production process.

Electrification and efficiency upgrades and preparations begin

 

Vicinity electric boiler

This is the site where the 42MW industrial-scale electric boiler will be installed to produce carbon-free electrified steam at our Kendall facility. This area previously held a steam turbine.

 

December 2023 update

In December, Vicinity’s Deputy CEO and President Kevin Hagerty and Senior Vice President of Engineering Pat Gillooly traveled to the MAN Energy Solutions’ Oberhausen and Berlin engineering offices and manufacturing and assembly facilities, along with our design team from Vanderweil Engineers.

Our team met with MAN to align our goals and objectives for the industrial-scale, river-based heat pump complex to be installed at our Kendall facility in Cambridge, MA, and better understand the team’s full capabilities in engineering and producing high-quality heat pumps and steam compressor systems.

Vicinity team travels to Germany to meet with MAN Energy Solutions team

 

Kevin Hagerty and Pat Gillooly stand with the MAN Energy Solutions team in front of the compressor that will be part of Vicinity’s industrial-scale heat pump complex.

 

November 2023

In November, we announced the arrival of our 42MW industrial-scale electric boiler at our Kendall Square facility in Cambridge. After passing a factory acceptance test with Vapor Power International and Precision Boiler, the boiler was delivered to our Kendall facility to be prepared for installation.

The boiler will be installed in the coming months and is expected to be fully operational by the summer of 2024.

The electric boiler is pivotal in Vicinity’s mission to provide sustainable solutions to our customers. Once operational, the boiler will enable the immediate production of eSteam™, our award-winning carbon-free thermal energy product.

Industrial-scale electric boiler arrives at Vicinity’s Kendall facility

 

The electric boiler arriving at our Kendall facility in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where it will be installed in 2024.

Industrial-scale electric boiler arrives at Vicinity’s Kendall facility

 

electric boiler vicinity

The electric boiler is brought into the Kendall facility, where it will be stored until installation.

 

November 2023

In November, our industrial-scale electric boiler underwent a factory acceptance test with Vapor Power International and Precision Boiler to ensure it was ready to be delivered and begin operating at our Kendall facility in Cambridge.

The rigorous test included several steps: the team examined the equipment in its final assembly process, then the boiler was disassembled, and the removed piping was painted before the boiler was re-assembled. It was inspected for quality assurance and to ensure the boiler met ASME standards. Then, power on the control cabinet was added. The Human Machine Interface (HMI) and the system’s screens and logic were reviewed. The simulation of alarm and trip signals in the control system was completed.

Finally, the teams discussed shipment details, details on re-assembly at the site, and what is involved in the commissioning and startup of the boiler. Vicinity’s Senior Performance Engineer Steve Murphy and Kendall Shift Supervisor Jeff Gawrys witnessed the performance testing.

Industrial-scale electric boiler undergoes factory acceptance testing

 

electric boiler test

The electric boiler undergoes a factory acceptance test with Vapor Power International and Precision Boiler.

 

April 2023

In April, we announced our partnership with the Augsburg, Germany-based organization MAN Energy Solutions to collaborate in developing low-temperature source heat pump systems for steam generation.

Vicinity plans to install an industrial-scale heat pump complex at our Kendall facility by 2028. Once installed, it will be powered by renewable electricity to harvest energy from the Charles River safely and efficiently, returning it to a lower temperature so as not to harm the river’s environment.

The Cambridge heat pump complex will have a steam export capacity of 35MW, occupy a space of around 25,000 sq ft., and circulate 24.5 million to 49 million gallons of water from the Charles River daily.

MAN Energy Systems and Vicinity Energy partner on the development of industrial-scale heat pumps

 

man energy systems tour

The MAN Energy Solutions team toured our Kendall facility to see where the industrial-scale heat pump will be installed.  

MAN Energy Systems and Vicinity Energy sign MOU

 

man energy solutions MOU

Vicinity Energy Chairman and CEO Bill DiCroce and MAN Energy Solutions CEO Uwe Laber sign a Memorandum of Understanding to partner in developing industrial-scale heat pumps.

 

February 2023

In February, we announced a long-term partnership with our first eSteam™ customer, IQHQ, Inc., a premier life sciences real estate development company focused on leadership in sustainability. Vicinity will provide eSteam™, our carbon-free, renewable thermal energy offering, to IQHQ to rapidly decarbonize IQHQ’s developments in the Fenway neighborhood.

November 2022

In November 2022, we officially kicked off our electrification plans with the deconstruction of a steam turbine at our Kendall facility. In its place, we are installing an electric boiler, marking a critical step in our commitment to reaching net zero carbon emissions across our operations by 2050.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu joined us at our Kendall facility to commemorate the milestone.

Kicking off our electrification plans with Mayor Michelle Wu

 

mayor wu steam turbine

Mayor Michelle Wu kicks off the demolition of our natural gas steam turbine to make way for our industrial-scale electric boiler. 

Kicking off our electrification plans with Mayor Michelle Wu

 

electric boiler

This is the site at our Kendall facility where we deconstructed our first steam turbine to create a more sustainable solution. In its place, we will install a brand-new electric boiler that will enter service in 2024 to produce carbon-free eSteam™.

Interested in learning if eSteam™ is right for you?