Keele University is set to become a guinea pig for low-carbon heating from next year, as part of a new trial to pipe hydrogen gas into the heating network. The HyDeploy project, which is being run by gas distribution company Cadent and officially launched last night at a Parliamentary reception, will see hydrogen gas pumped into Keele University’s private gas network. Up to a share of 20 per cent hydrogen will be blended into supplies to test how much can be safely used as part of existing gas distribution systems. Hydrogen is widely viewed as a much greener alternative to natural gas, because when burnt it produces only water and oxygen. However, to fully convert the UK’s gas network to hydrogen some 26m domestic boilers would need to be swapped for hydrogen-compatible ones, an expensive undertaking. Cadent thinks a blend of up to 20 per cent hydrogen could be feasible to cut heating emissions without compromising domestic boilers and cooking equipment. The live trial is backed by Ofgem’s Network Innovation Competition, and is the first stage in an ambitious £600m project that would eventually encompass millions of homes and businesses across Liverpool and Manchester.
Fountainbridge is poised to lead way on sewage energy. As old brewery site at Fountainbridge undergoes a once in a generation change with schools, offices and more, there is a new idea on tap. Environmental groups and city planners are looking at how to use the huge sewage network underground to generate heat and energy. And they say if the technology can be made to work, it could save the community thousands as well as drastically reducing carbon emissions. The site-wide district heating system has been discussed before. It almost made it into the agenda some years ago, but fell short during organisational changes of city projects. Reports commissioned for the scheme suggest the old brewery site could be made to deliver energy and carbon savings of around 26 per cent. That would allow the likes of Boroughmuir High School – which moves into the site on Wednesday – and other developers to plug in. The technology has already been proven elsewhere, with Scottish Water winning a gong for delivering Britain’s first heat-from-sewage system in the Borders. The success was such that it earned them the 2017 Scottish Green Energy Award for Best Innovation. That groundbreaking project now sees it supply Scottish Borders College with most of its annual heating and hot water demands, saving not just cost, but 150 tonnes per carbon. From a technology point of view, early indications are said to have proven favourable for the site, with flow being large enough to accommodate a heat exchanger to clean the water which then sees its temperature raised and distributed. Jane Jones, who has been campaigning on the issue with Fountainbridge Canalside Initiative as joint secretary, said the move could turn money going down the drain through wastage into cash in the hand for locals. Research and studies she has seen indicate that the plans could deliver energy for more than 750 homes at the site of the old Scottish and Newcastle Brewery, using the same kind of technology now working in Galashiels. She said: “The benefits for everyone are huge. “Heat which would otherwise go to waste can be used to heat the entire development. Not only that, but existing buildings in the area can also link in – like the new Boroughmuir School and developments around Lochrin Basin.”
Former mines are peppered across the landscape of Wales, but one in Bridgend county is going to be used to heat people’s homes. A former colliery in Caerau is the site for a new £9.4m project that will take naturally-heated water and use it to power people’s central heating. Here is how it will work.
Some of Scotland’s most densely populated communities are sitting on what could, quite literally, be a hotbed of limitless clean energy. Though our coal industry is pretty much dead and buried, the landscape today still bears the legacy of a long history of mining across the central belt. And it’s this network of disused shafts that experts believe could hold the key to what is a potentially massive – and so far virtually untapped – resource of green power derived from geothermal energy. Two small-scale experiments using ground source heat pumps to tap warm water collected in defunct mines in Glasgow’s Shettleston and Lumphinnans in Fife have already proved successful, but those who know about these things say it’s time to think bigger, much bigger. The British Geological Survey (BGS) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the UK’s main funding body for earth sciences, have unveiled plans to investigate the true scope of recovering heat from water trapped deep underground in abandoned mines in a pioneering new project that will be based either in the east end of Glasgow or in Rutherglen, South Lanarkshire. The proposed Glasgow Geothermal Energy Research Field Site is one of two such schemes being put forward as part of the £31 million UK Geoenergy Observatories Project. The other one will be in England.
A pioneering project to produce power from hot rocks several kilometres under the ground in Cornwall will begin drilling early next year, if a multimillion-pound fundraising drive succeeds. Abundance, a crowdfunding platform overseen by the main City regulator, will this week launch a bond to raise £5m for the UK’s first commercial geothermal power station, located near Redruth.
A tech firm has taken the principle behind hand-warmers and turned them into big batteries that can heat a house using solar power. An East Lothian company with fewer than 30 employees Sunamp has developed at their base in Macmerry a heat battery that has already been installed in 650 Scottish homes, providing heat and hot water for about half the cost of gas.
The National Trust is continuing its march towards self-sufficient energy generation, having produced 12% of its heat from on-site renewable energy sources in 2016 – four years ahead of Britain’s national renewable heat targets. The British conservation organisation has also drastically reduced its reliance on oil consumption, with a 50% drop on 2009 levels, as of December 2016.
Illustrating the potential role of combined heat and power in balancing variable renewables an arms-length council-owed district heating company in Gateshead is set to boost its projected life-time income by nearly £1 million after signing up to a power demand-response scheme run by Flextricity based in Edinburgh. The Gateshead District Energy Scheme, which is currently being commissioned, and will be fully operational by mid-2017, has become part of Flexitricity’s demand response network netting the company more than £60,000 per year over the next 15 years for smoothing out peaks and troughs in national electricity demand.
Barrow Green Gas (BGG) has ‘launched’ biomethane into the UK national gas network for a record 33 biomethane producers – more than any other gas shipper in Great Britain – as new regulatory environmental reporting alongside financial reporting requirements impacts large corporate. Every month more green gas comes available via BGG as new biomethane producers connect to the grid and existing ones produce increasing amounts. Tim Davis, Managing Director, BGG, said: “2016 is the year where we have seen green gas really take off with increasing numbers of producers injecting green gas into the existing gas grid. This year we saw our gas being supplied to some of the UK’s leading renewable energy suppliers, with Good Energy and Green Energy UK offering green gas to customers. We are also supplying CNG Fuels with green gas as a transport fuel that is being used by Waitrose, John Lewis, Argos and Brit European – a great alternative to diesel.” The UK has the fastest growing green gas market in the world and dedicated biomethane shipper, BGG, is the largest shipper of biomethane. In addition, BGG markets green gas certificates (GGCs), the value of which is now considerably increased for companies when reporting their emissions.
Renewable energy technology that draws heat from the sea is proving effective in keeping one of Orkney’s newest buildings warm. The Warehouse Buildings – Orkney Islands Council’s multi-purpose facility in Stromness – are the first in the islands to be fitted with a sea-source heat pump. This uses warmth absorbed from Stromness harbour to provide heating for the buildings. Monitoring over a 12-month period shows this to be a cost-effective choice for the offices, which house the town’s library and customer services team, and provides a work base for staff from a variety of council services.