Thousands of UK residents will soon be cooking with “poo-power”‘. In a national first, water firms including Severn Trent, Wessex Water and Northumbrian Water are preparing to pipe a continuous supply of biomethane gas directly from sewage-treatment plants into the National Grid. In the past, water firms have used gas produced in sewage treatment to generate electricity on site, but this will be the first time advanced technology to treat methane will produce high-quality biomethane suitable for use in homes. Severn Trent was first to activate its gas-to-grid systems, this week, injecting 1,200m3 of biomethane into the Grid from Minworth sewage works in Birmingham. When fully operational, it will inject 750m3 of biomethane into the Grid every hour, enough to fuel 4,200 homes annually. Both Severn Trent and Wessex Water intend to pipe a continuous supply into the Grid by mid-October. Wessex Water’s gas-to-grid project at the Bristol sewage works will be the first and largest plant of its kind, using food waste as well as sewage to produce up to 2,000m3 of biomethane an hour, enough to fuel 8,300 homes for a year. Food waste, said spokesman Ian Drury, generates “twice as much” biogas as sewage.
An ancient volcano deep beneath Stoke-on-Trent could help to heat more than a thousand homes. Under a plan costing £52 million, a 2.5km (1.5 mile) borehole would be drilled to an aquifer in which the water is heated naturally to at least 85C (185F). The source of the heat is thought to be a volcano 350 million years old. Professor Peter Styles, of the University of Keele, told The Sentinel: “It’s a bit like having a hot water bottle in the ground.” Stoke City Council is preparing a business case for the project. The government has pledged £20 million.
The first renewable energy scheme in Scotland to draw heat from a river is set to be installed by the University of Glasgow in a bid to lower the university’s heating bill by one-quarter. The revolutionary technology, which has separately been pioneered by Glasgow firm Star Renewable Energy and has been successfully installed in lakes, rivers and estuaries in Scandinavia and Japan, would see a heat pump installed two metres below the surface of the Clyde or Kelvin rivers where latent heat from the sun keeps the temperature of the water between 8C and 10C all year round.
One of the UK’s largest NHS hospitals is set to save more than £80m over the next 25 years with the opening of a new decentralised combined heat and power (CHP) energy centre. Addenbrook’s in Cambridge is working with energy consultants Utilyx to install the centre, which will help the renowned teaching hospital meet its sustainability targets by providing high efficiency and low carbon heating, hot water and electricity.
The Department for Environment and Climate Change (Decc) would like to see the number of properties connected to a district heating scheme increased from a paltry 2% (just under 200,000 nationwide) to 20% by 2030 and 40% by 2050. To facilitate this, Decc has made £7m available to councils to carry out feasibility studies for district heating systems. More than 50 UK local authorities have taken the government up on its offer. Between them they have been awarded £4m and there is £3m remaining in the pot. The Greater London Authority has set a target that 25% of its energy supply will come from decentralised sources by 2025. The first step towards this was creating a map of London’s heat resources. The map shows where London’s power plants are, where its energy from waste plants is, its CHP sites and the proposed sites for heating networks. The regeneration of the area around Kings Cross station in London will see 2,000 new homes built – all of which will be connected to district heating. Another 10,000 homes to be built on the site of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will also benefit. Another scheme in Pimlico is already up and running, supplying heat to 3,000 homes. Outside the capital, Sheffield, Leicester, Nottingham and Bristol are also investing in district heating. Bristol is developing the infrastructure in the local enterprise zone around Bristol Temple Meads railway station.
More than 20,000 homes could be heated by drawing energy from just 40 urban rivers and estuaries, from the Tyne in Newcastle down to the Stour in Bournemouth, according to new government research.The Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, wants to see quick development of water-source heat pumps. These draw residual heat from rivers, which is then fed into local networks or single buildings to provide a low-carbon form of energy. The Department of Energy has today published a “heat map” (see graphic) to help developers and local authorities identify the best locations to install the pumps, aligning them to areas with high demand for heat.
More than 1GW of modern wood heating systems have been installed under a government scheme designed to accelerate the roll out of greener boilers. Ofgem figures show the sector broke through the milestone last week following strong demand from commercial, industrial, and public sector organisations since the non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) was launched in late 2011. The scheme, which offers payments to renewable heat generators, was subsequently expanded to include households from April this year.
The government has launched an online tool to help consumers calculate the money they could earn by installing renewable heat technologies, such as solar thermal panels or ground source heat pumps. The new Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) calculator is available in England, Scotland and Wales, and will show users instantly how much money they can expect to earn through the subsidy scheme, which launched earlier this year for the domestic market.
Emeritus Professor of Physics at Imperial College Keith Barnham says fracking companies could follow Greenfield Energy, now drilling below the carparks of a leading supermarket chain for geothermal heat. Most scientists agree we cannot burn more than one-third of the world’s proven fossil fuel reserves if we are to slow global warming. Why exploit new, unproven gas resources of uncertain yield? At far shallower depths there is sufficient geothermal energy to heat and cool buildings.
A SCOTTISH distillery is going green with the help of an investment of about £1 million to install a biomass boiler. The Balmenach Distillery in Speyside, north-eastern Scotland, is receiving finance from the Green Investment Bank (GIB) to install the technology, which will replace the polluting heavy fuel oil boiler currently used at the plant. It is the third Scottish distillery to benefit from a £5 million funding pot for energy efficiency in distilleries from the Green Investment Bank and the private sector, with each project getting between £1 million and £1.5 million funding.