The potential advantages of district heating for the UK, where the technology is expected to meet 20% of the country’s heat demand by 2030. District heating (DH) is currently experiencing a renaissance the UK. Implemented across Europe during the post war period, DH remains popular on the continent in places such as Germany, Scandinavia and much of Eastern Europe. DH in Denmark, for example, currently heats over 60% of homes with that number rising to 95% in Copenhagen. In contrast, the UK, which saw significant growth in DH with the council housing boom in the 1950s – 1970s, fell out of love with DH when the North Sea natural gas network was established in the 1980s. The tide is turning, however and the UK’s energy future with regards to DH looks to be falling in line with the rest of Europe’s. The last government funded, via DECC, over 140 DH feasibility studies to the tune of over £6m. The Government’s Heat Strategy published in 2013 firmly placed DH as the preferable source of heating in urban areas by 2050. Today’s figure of 2% of domestic demand in the UK being fed by DH is predicted to rise to a figure of 20% by 2030. Why is this the case and what are the advantages of district heating?
Edinburgh-based UK Green Investment Bank and Equitix have invested £4 million for a series of sewage-heat recovery system installations across Scotland. This is the first time this technology, developed by SHARC Energy Systems, will be deployed in the UK. The pilot project will see heat extracted from waste water intercepted from Scottish Water’s Galashiels network. The heat will then be sold to Borders College under a 20-year purchase agreement resulting in energy and cost savings and a reduction in carbon emissions.
Underground thermal water sources could be used to heat homes and businesses around Scotland if a new feasibility study in Fife is a success. A green energy centre run by the University of St Andrews is to investigate the possibility of heating buildings using warm water recovered from sedimentary rocks deep below the ground. The University is lead partner in a Scottish Government funded project based at the Guardbridge Energy Centre, which it operates. Experts hope geothermal energy could provide significant amounts of renewable heat for Scotland, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with a low carbon heat source. The project will establish whether it such geothermal heat sources offer a financially viable resource. Dr Ruth Robinson, the lead for the project at the University of St Andrews, said: “Extracting geothermal heat from sedimentary rocks is similar to getting drinking water out of the ground, except in this case the water is warm enough to be used for heating. University of St Andrews Executive Director for Guardbridge, Ian McGrath said the project was just one of the renewable energies being explored at the industrial site, which has previously housed a distillery and paper mill. “We believe the diverse range of potential uses for Guardbridge has the capacity to re-establish this huge site as a key economic centre in Fife,” he said. St Andrews University is investing £25 million at the site, five miles west of St Andrews, to generate power through clean biomass and pump hot water 4 miles underground to St Andrews to heat and cool its labs and residences. Alongside plans for a six-turbine wind power development at Kenly to the east of the town, the Guardbridge scheme aims to help St Andrews to become the United Kingdom’s first carbon-neutral university.
Nearly 33,000 homes have secured Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) payments for biomass boilers, solar thermal panels and heat pumps, since the government launched the subsidy scheme one year ago, new figures from Ofgem have revealed. The energy markets regulator yesterday said it has paid out £20.7m to homes that have installed renewable heat technologies, after the domestic arm of the RHI launched in April 2014.
We need a “major change of mindset” on how we heat our homes, according to Scottish Renewables. The trade body says we need to “kick its addiction” to gas-fired boilers if we are to meet ambitious targets for renewable heat. The benefits of decarbonising heat use are not only related to the environment, but could save consumers money and boost the local economy. “Most of our homes, businesses and public buildings are warmed by conventional gas boilers, and we must kick that addiction. District heating, for example, is a great way for hundreds of homes to share one heat source, but we have yet to see a consensus on its importance.”
In a novel example of the transition from high to low carbon infrastructure, researchers in Nottingham have discovered how abandoned coal mines could produce renewable heating for tens of thousands of homes and offices in the UK. As part of a two-year project, researchers at Nottingham Trent University worked with renewable energy firm Alkane Energy to explore how water at the former Markham Colliery in North East Derbyshire could be condensed in a heat pump and fed through a district heating network.
Plans for a £25m biomass plant and heat network at the University of St Andrews have received a major boost after the scheme secured the final £11m financing required to start construction. The Scottish Government confirmed Friday that money would be invested through the Scottish Partnership for Regeneration in Urban Centres (SPRUCE) fund, which is a joint Scottish Government and European Regional Development initiative, managed by Amber Infrastructure.
UK waterways could help households slash carbon emissions by 50 per cent by tapping up to 6GW worth of low-carbon heat, according to the government.
WATER in disused mines warmed by the heat of the earth could be used to create a new energy source. An Edinburgh-based firm hopes to help establish a new industry in Scotland that one report suggested could supply up to a third of the country’s heating needs. The firm called Town Rock Energy is one of the founding members of the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation’s Low Carbon Ideas Lab and is also a family venture that is to pitch its idea as an alternative to fracking. The water that has flooded the hundreds of disused mine shafts that lie below areas of Scotland including Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Fife are heated by the warmth of the earth, which averages 17C at such depths, with higher temperatures at deeper levels. Town Rock Energy founder and managing director David Townsend, a 24-year-old geology graduate from the St Andrews University, has set up the company with his father Phil, who has experience in exploration geology and North Sea oil field management. He has been asked to prepare a paper on the difference between geothermal and fracking for the Scottish Renewables conference in Edinburgh.
PLANS to unlock Icelandic-style geothermal energy to help power Scotland’s homes and businesses have been unveiled by energy minister Fergus Ewing. A £250,000 Challenge Fund has been launched to explore the roll-out of initiatives similar to existing schemes where warm groundwater is used to generate electricity. Geothermal energy meets the heating and hot water requirements of almost 90 per cent of buildings in Iceland although this is largely down to the island’s location on a volcano belt. Mr Ewing said: “Over the last few years we have developed a better understanding and appreciation of the geothermal resource under our feet. “I have taken the advice of the Geothermal Energy Expert Group to build on the findings of a study undertaken in 2012-13 by supporting exploration of the significant potential for geothermal energy in naturally occurring groundwater and the water collecting in our abandoned mines. “Now is the time to take the experience of housing projects in Shettleston and Fife and take the first steps towards the development of a delivery model which reduces carbon emissions, is self-sustaining and is economically viable.”