Really disruptive technologies tend to be fairly rare in the renewable energy market. However, the heat batteries developed by Sunamp, which specialises in this area, look to be capable of being more disruptive than most of the innovations one sees in this space. Andrew Bissell, the CEO of Sunamp, claims that his products are highly likely to make conventional hot water cylinders obsolete in a relatively short space of time. The technology is now in its third iteration and is barely a third of the size of a typical hot water cylinder, such as households use for hot water. However, the company is currently prototyping much larger versions capable of scaling up to provide the heating needs of commercial companies from palette-sized to container-scale. In 2013, the Department of Energy and Climate Change gave Sunamp a contract to put the thermal storage system, alongside off-peak electricity and air-source heat pumps, into seven homes as a proof of concept trial. That was very successful heating the homes at half the cost of natural gas. The Sunamp put heat batteries into 650 homes. These were in two housing associations, East Lothian Housing and Castle Rock Edinvar.
Research from Northern Gas Networks and ITM Power concludes large scale power-to-gas energy storage could integrate with current gas networks. Ambitious plans to harness hydrogen’s potential as a form of energy storage and then inject the resulting green gas into the existing gas network could be delivered at scale, according to a major new government-backed feasibility study. Northern Gas Networks (NGN) and hydrogen technology specialist ITM Power announced this week that they have completed a collaborative desktop study, funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to explore the potential for large scale power to gas installations. The Power-to-Gas study examined potential deployment of large-scale storage capacity of 50 MW and above within the boundaries of NGN’s distribution network. It concluded that after accounting for seasonal variations in gas demand and the amount of hydrogen that would be able to be produced and blended with natural gas, a large area of the existing NGN grid could support power-to-gas.
Residents of Bristol could soon be cooking their evening meal using energy produced from poo, thanks to a new partnership announced yesterday between local utility Bristol Energy and anaerobic digestion experts GENeco. GENeco, the company behind the UK’s first bio-bus powered by sewage and liquid organic waste, is now supplying Bristol Energy with biomethane from sewage waste collected from the homes of a million people in the local area. GENeco now treats 75,000,000m3 of sewage waste every year, enough to power more than 8,000 homes with green gas. Customers who sign up to Bristol Energy’s My Green Plus tariff will receive 15 per cent green gas and 100 per cent green electricity, compared to a national average of 0.1 per cent. As well as using sewage to create green gas, GENeco also collects food waste as feedstock. Last October GENeco launched the first vehicle in the UK to both collect and run on commercial food waste. The Bio-Bee truck collects food waste and takes it to GENeco’s anaerobic digestion plant, where the waste is processed to remove any plastic and then turned into low carbon biogas.
Scientists are finalising plans to exploit the vast reservoir of warm water that fills a labyrinth of disused mines and porous rock layers underneath Glasgow. They believe this subterranean store of naturally heated water could be used to warm homes in the city. If the system proves successful, such water could then be exploited in other cities and towns across Britain, they say. The £9m project will initially involve drilling narrow boreholes filled with instruments to survey temperature, seismic activity, water flow, acidity and other variables to establish the state of the water in the rocks below the city. The aim will be to establish whether this warm water can be extracted for long periods to heat Glaswegian homes. Drilling of the first test boreholes – at sites yet to be selected – is the first part of an initiative by the BGS: the creation of several UK geo-energy observatories. Where other observatories look up to the sky, these will monitor conditions underground, say scientists. One test system has been selected for Scotland: the Glasgow Geothermal Energy Research Field Site. A second has been proposed for Cheshire – where scientists want to study rock conditions to assess the possibility of using underground vaults as storage for heated water. Heating of homes is set to become a crucial issue, researchers have warned. The UK is on target to decarbonise electricity generation as a result of the growing numbers of renewable power plants. However, the nation is still heavily reliant on North Sea and imported natural gas to heat its homes. Combustion of these fossil fuels forms a substantial part of the carbon dioxide emissions which the UK has pledged to reduce to help limit glob al warming.
A heat pump project being planned in the Gorbals will harvest heat from the River Clyde. The Renewable Heat Incentive provides appropriate support for lower carbon techniques to be utilised if one wants to. Heat pump uptake has though been very low. The Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme is supporting key Scottish projects with funding to get the difficult ground breaking projects moving therefore showing they are technically achievable.
Leeds cuts ribbon on ‘revolutionary’ £35m heat network. One of the UK’s largest heat networks has been officially launched by Leeds City Council, in a development which will deliver low-carbon heat and water to thousands of homes and businesses. Tenants in 23 Leeds apartment blocks are expected save on energy bills by between 10% and 25% a year through the heat network connection
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.