Glasgow-based Start Renewable Energy has won a £350,000 contract to supply heat pumps for a pioneering renewable energy scheme which will, for the first time in the UK, see solar thermal panels being used to power a district heating scheme. Under the contract Star will design and build a large-scale heat pump system connected to a solar energy farm to be built in the new town of Cranbrook, now under construction near Exeter. The system will provide heat and hot water to the town’s district heating scheme, one of the largest in the country, operated by German energy giant E.On. David Pearson, director of Star Renewable Energy, told the Sunday Herald that the demonstrator project – awarded a £1.3 million research grant from the Department of Energy and Climate Change earlier this month – would help prove that heat pumps can be used effectively with low carbon solar panels. A successful system would allow Crankbrook’s currently gas-fired system to lower its emissions.”The aim of the project is to improve the performance of heat networks and to demonstrate how the combined technologies can replace or work alongside the existing combined heat and power district heating scheme to provide lower cost and significantly lower carbon heating and hot water,” Pearson said.