UK Crematorium to Supply Power Generated by Cremation Process

A crematorium in the U.K. announced plans this week to harness energy created by the process of cremating human bodies and supply it to the country’s power grid.

The Durham Crematorium plans to be the first crematorium in the U.K. to sell off energy to the National Grid. Early estimates say the cremation process could power up to 1,500 televisions.

The crematorium would install turbines in two of its three burners. The third burner will be used to provide heat for the building’s offices and chapel.

Energy is taken not from the process of burning bodies, but by harnessing the tremendous amount of steam that is generated while cooling down the heating chambers after a body is incinerated. Human bodies must be burned at a very high temperature in order to become ash.

The crematorium is aware of ethical concerns and wants feedback from the community.

"If there is genuine spare capacity to generate electricity then we are certainly interested in investigating that (and) if it was thought to be acceptable in the eyes of the public we would almost certainly pursue that," Alan José, superintendent at Durham Crematorium, said in an interview with the Telegraph.

José noted that the plan is a creative use of energy that otherwise would have gone to waste. Experts say crematoria in the U.K. are likely to follow suit.

"Apart from it being common sense for us to try to conserve energy, it also enables us to keep the fees down,” José said.

Representatives say they want the crematorium to still be known as such, and not given the macabre association of it being an energy factory.

"We don't want to become known as a power station rather than a crematorium because we try to provide a reverend and decent place for people to have a cremation service," José said.

After citizens get over the initial shock of tangentially powering their houses by burning corpses, the idea is likely to gain support. The cost of energy in the U.K. rose 27 percent from last year, and more than 70 percent of U.K. citizens chose cremation over burial.