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Heating option considered for Heathrow

BAA is exploring ways to capture the heat of summer sun and store it for winter to keep planes moving at Heathrow.

The airport operator is exploring the new technology, which combines the principles of Roman central heating with modern-day renewable energy technology.

It is hoped that the heat generated during the summer can be stored by the airport’s asphalt and limit the amount of planes becoming stuck on their stands.

During the harsh conditions last winter Heathrow was unable to operate at full capacity for five days after an hour-long snowstorm dumped almost 13cm (5in) of snow followed by a sudden drop in temperature.

Although the full cost of the project is yet to be confirmed, BAA’s capital projects director, Steve Morgan, said it could be funded by the postponement of a facelift for one of the terminals.

An unnamed private firm is working with BAA on the plan, which would require digging sump holes of up to 10m deep to fit the technology that will store energy and pump warmed water under the strands.

The only areas that would need to be warmed would be those beneath the wheels and where crews need to inspect and load the planes.

Pumping water from deep underground, which is naturally above freezing even in cold conditions, is also being considered as an alternative method to decrease winter disruption at the airport.