Featured Green Technology & Innovation

Carbon-free Renewable Energy Technology Launched in Boston

Boston – Vicinity Energy announced it has launched eSteam, a new innovation designed to rapidly decarbonize commercial buildings.

Vicinity is the first in the U.S. to electrify its operations, offering renewable thermal energy by installing electric boilers, industrial-scale heat pumps, and thermal storage at its central facilities starting in Boston and Cambridge, with its other districts to follow.

“In cities like Boston and Cambridge, buildings account for nearly 70% of all greenhouse gas emissions” said Matt O’Malley, Vicinity’s first ever chief sustainability officer. “Vicinity is uniquely poised to serve as a national leader on building decarbonization.”

Vicinity’s first electric asset will enter service in late 2023. At that time, the company will procure electricity from renewable, carbon-free energy sources such as wind, solar, and hydro to generate eSteam.

Vicinity Energy centrally produces and distributes steam, hot water, and chilled water to over 230 million sq. ft. of building space nationwide. To offer cost-competitive, renewable thermal energy to its customers, Vicinity will leverage and build upon its existing infrastructure, including its extensive network of underground pipes, electric substations, and transmission lines. Further, Vicinity has access to wholesale, renewable power through the electric grid versus commercial buildings that purchase retail power, typically two to three times more expensive. Coupling the existing infrastructure with favorable pricing, Vicinity’s approach to electrifying its operations is designed to provide customers with a cost-effective decarbonization tool to meet sustainability goals without expensive onsite retrofits or significant capital investments.

By electrifying its operations and offering renewable thermal, eSteam’s benefits include:

  • The ability to leverage district energy with guaranteed carbon-free emissions;
  • Total flexibility in the amount selected and the renewable electricity source used to produce eSteam; 
  • An affordable, cost-effective energy option to achieve sustainability targets;
  • Carbon-neutral energy without substantial capital investments or ongoing, in-building maintenance of equipment;
  • Additional potential points for LEED and ENERGY STAR certifications; and
  • Continued reliability and resiliency from the district energy system.

Vicinity’s eSteam will provide customers with another option to cleanly heat and cool their buildings. Commercial buildings will no longer need natural gas boilers, eliminating unregulated gas stacks and unmonitored carbon emissions in neighborhoods, reducing carbon and improving overall air quality.

“We are procuring equipment today to make renewable thermal energy a reality within the next 24 months in Boston and Cambridge. And we’re not stopping there. We’ll be electrifying and introducing eSteam in other districts and continuing to innovate to meet decarbonization goals,” said Kevin Hagerty, chief technical officer of Vicinity Energy.