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.”
Combined heat and power (CHP) generators will be a backbone technology in Europe’s coming green energy revolution. They produce both saleable heat and electricity and can rapidly ramp up and down over short periods of time. That gives them a third capability: to balance power grids in order to compensate for fluctuating renewables like wind and solar power.
WHILE shale gas has grabbed most of the headlines in recent months, another form of unconventional gas has quietly been establishing itself in Scotland. Scotland’s first “gas to grid” anaerobic digestion project in Coupar Angus, Perthshire, came on line towards the end of 2014 and a number of others are currently in various stages of development. There is no doubt that commercial scale anaerobic digestion gas-to-grid has arrived in Scotland. Anaerobic digestion (AD) is a natural process where, in the absence of oxygen, organic material is broken down by bacteria to produce biogas. The technology is not new. AD plants producing biogas have been widely used for some time. The gas produced was typically used for on-site heating or for the production of electricity. However, if there is no on-site or neighbouring demand for heat, then using the gas to solely produce electricity only uses around 30-35 per cent of the energy in the gas. A far more efficient method of harnessing the energy content, and one with reduced emissions, is to clean up the gas and inject it into the gas grid – into the pipeline networks that supply our homes and businesses, bringing green gas to all. By selling into the grid, developers of projects create a market; no longer are they concerned with the financial stability of a single on-site user of gas. It also has a number of other potential benefits.
Social business Gentoo Group is set to trial a new type of solar panel “Solar Angel” that combines the benefits of conventional solar thermal and photovoltaic (PV) technologies to generate both hot water and electricity. The Solar Angel panel is more efficient than a standard PV panel as it generates both hot water and electricity by absorbing a larger percentage of energy from the sun. In turn, the hot water generated cools down the panel, increasing the efficiency of the electrical generation which should result in lower energy costs for the customer.
A Co-Operative store in the Highlands has become the retailer’s first branch to switch to biomass heating – in a move which will cut the shop’s annual energy bill by nearly 50% and cut 90 tonnes of C02 emissions. The Co-op opted for the biomass system as part of a £540,000 refit of their Kilmallie Road store in Caol, Ft. William, to reduce both carbon emissions and operating costs.