A community centre in Bristol has become host to the first air-sourced district heating system in the country, providing low-carbon heat throughout the winter months. Easton Community Centre’s renewable heating system, which launched on Saturday, uses air source pumps to trap heat from the summer sunshine underground, which will be stored underneath a local park until the winter months when it will be released for use as central heating. The new system will provide enough heat to fully meet demand from the community centre throughout the winter. Although such systems are already in use across northern Europe, this is the first deployment of the technology using air source heat pumps in the UK. The pumps will be powered using excess solar electricity from rooftop panels on the community centre and neighbouring houses. The pilot project, called CHOICES, cost £700,000 to install and was funded by the Department of Energy and Climate Change through the department’s Heat Network Innovation fund. Plans are underway to extend the scheme to neighbouring homes within the next few years.
Bristol’s newly elected mayor, Marvin Rees, has approved the city’s first major step towards becoming carbon neutral by 2050, giving the go-ahead for £5m in capital funding to build a low-carbon district heating network to serve the city. The first phase of the heat network, which was approved earlier this week, will supply low-carbon heat to buildings throughout Bristol via a network of underground pipes connected to a number of energy centres, including biomass boilers and gas combined heat and power plants. Over time the city plans to phase out the use of natural gas in favour of renewable alternatives. Meanwhile, work began last year on the first stage, with biomass-fuelled heat centres currently being built to supply businesses and social housing tenants in the Redcliffe area of the city. Under current planning laws, all new building developments in Bristol within a designated “heat priority area” are required to connect to a heat network or be “district heating ready” unless technically unviable. Therefore, the new network scheme is also expected to significantly improve the green credentials of new developments in the city.
The company are committed to providing industry-leading products to help define the future of the renewable heating sector. As an integral part of government’s plans over the next decade, the importance of renewable heating is not to be underestimated since the heat used in UK homes, public buildings, businesses and factories is responsible for around 50% of all energy use. Housing associations all over the country are looking at ways to reduce their carbon footprint by improving their renewable energy technologies, and the air source heat pump is a big game changer as it requires no new heating infrastructure. Colin Reed, Sustainable Manager for Glasgow Housing Association and one of the partners involved in the development of the 400kW low-carbon heat pump said “We intend to use heatpumps of this scale in our housing stock. We’re looking to deploy in Hillpark Drive. In Glasgow alone we have 127 high rise blocks with over 10,000 properties where district heating is a viable option.”
Glasgow’s Star Renewable Energy has been dubbed as the “most eye-catching of exhibits” at an energy conference being held next month in the city. Star Renewable Energy will feature as key home-grown innovator at the event, following the release of its groundbreaking Neatpump technology. Designed in conjunction with Glasgow Housing Association (GHA), WSP Parsons Brinkerhoff and Scottish Gas, the industrial scale 700kW low carbon district heating solution is 8 metres long and hits temperatures over 60 degrees Celsius. This pushes the boundaries of current heating solutions, and allows the air source heat pump to provide three units of heat for each unit of energy consumed.
Plans to drill a deep geothermal well beneath the city of Aberdeen could deliver heating to thousands of nearby homes and an exhibition centre as Scotland looks to accelerate progress towards its goal of 11% non-electrical heat demand coming from renewable sources by 2020. A Government-funded report suggests that the new demonstration scheme, which would exploit geothermal energy through a pipe stretching almost 1.2 miles into the ground, could help position the region as a global energy hub and heighten the potential of this form of energy for the rest of the UK. Aberdeen City Council says it is “willing to support” a bid to fund the “fracking free” scheme which would provide a decarbonised heat supply to local dwellings and the proposed Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC). According to the latest figures from the Scottish Government, Scotland produced enough heat from renewable sources to meet between 3.7% and 3.8% of non-electrical heat demand in 2014 – up from 1% in 2009 but still a long way short of the 11% target set for 2020. Last summer, the Scottish Government released a new policy roadmap which set out its approach to decarbonising the heat system. The Heat Policy Statement outlined a number of new approaches to renewable heat, such as the designation of energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority, and the funding of feasibility studies into the potential for geothermal energy in Scotland.
The UK saw 23 biomethane-to-grid connections in 2015, making it the fastest growing market in the world for the technology. The new connections bring the total number of installed gas-to-grid plants in the UK to 50, almost doubling the figure at the end of 2014. Biomethane-to-grid is the process whereby renewable gas is injected into the UK’s gas grid, giving a flexible and efficient source of sustainable energy made from organic material including sewage sludge and food waste. Severn Trent’s Minworth wastewater treatment works (WwTW), Northumbrian Water’s Howden WwTW and Wessex Water’s Avonmouth WwTW are among the wastewater treatment sites to have made successful connections. By mid-2016, when all completed projects are at full capacity, it is expected that there will be around 120 million therms per annum going into to grid, with annual green gas production reaching 3.5 TWh per year. This injection will replace 240,000 tonnes of natural gas that would otherwise have been imported into the country. Biomethane is also increasingly being used as a fuel for transport, known as Bio-CNG. Wessex Water’s subsidiary GenECO has used the gas to fuel vehicles and is in talks with bus companies in Bristol about supplying them with the fuel.
Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing has launched the UK’s first SHARC energy recovery system at the campus in Galashiels. Backed by investment from Equitix and the UK Green Investment Bank, the SHARC heat recovery system intercepts waste water from a sewer close to the local treatment works operated by Scottish Water. The system uses a heat pump to amplify the natural warmth of waste water and the heat produced is being sold to Borders College under a 20-year purchase agreement, producing savings in energy, costs and carbon emissions. The system now provides around 95% of the heat needed by the Galashiels campus and does not impact on the normal operation of the local waste water network, according to the company.
A heat pump manufactured by Star Renewable Energy has been shipped from Glasgow to E.ON’s community energy centre in Cranbrook following a launch attended by MSPs Sarah Boyack and Ken MacIntosh. The renewable heat technology will allow renewable heating and hot water to be delivered to 300 brand new homes through a network of super-insulated underground pipes and will eventually deliver the harvested heat to 3,500 new homes and 1.4 million square feet of industrial space. Star Renewable Energy director Dave Pearson talked about the uncertainty of the UK’s Government indecision about the continuity of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) past March 2016 is causing. He said: “It is particularly astounding that technology hailed as “game-changing” by former UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey, which can draw warmth from rivers and provide affordable, clean heat for homes across the country and save millions of tonnes of CO2 is not receiving the same level of support of technologies such as nuclear, when half of the energy we use in the UK does not come as electricity but in the form of heat”.
Sunamp, a Scottish manufacturer of heat batteries for domestic energy storage, including models designed to link with PV systems, has started serial production of its units from a base in the UK. Company boss Andrew Bissell and his team revealed at the Solar Energy UK show yesterday that Sunamp’s assembly partner, Bay Solutions, is putting together Sunamp products at a rate of 100 cells a week, equating to 50 units. While the company undoubtedly wants to go for the wider commercial market long term, the initial focus of this output will be for a community-run and privately-invested programme to assess the long-term impact on fuel poverty of using the heat storage in combination with PV on the roofs of at least 1,000 social housing developments.
Glasgow-based Star Renewable Energy is to design and build a large-scale heat pump to work with a solar-energy installation and supply Eon’s community energy centre in Cranbrook with heating and hot water. This low-carbon heating venture is the first of its kind in the UK to merge large-scale heat pumps and solar thermal panels with contributions from solar photo-voltaic and dedicated heat storage systems in a large-scale district heating network.