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Friday, 4th January 2019

Scotland receives green light for large-scale water source heat pump project

Scotland is set to welcome its first large-scale water source heat pump scheme, that will take heat from the river Clyde to provide heat and hot water for a nearby district heating network.

Titan Crane on the River Clyde

Titan Crane on the River Clyde

Delivered by Vital Energi, two 2.5MW water source heat pumps will be used to provide heat for the up to 1,200 houses and businesses and public buildings as part of the £250m Queen’s Quay Development project in Clydebank.

The heat generated at a nearby energy centre will be pumped through 2.5km of district heating pipes to the homes and some public buildings, including West College Scotland, Clydebank Leisure Centre, the Town Hall and Clydebank Library.

Councillor Iain McLaren, convener of infrastructure, regeneration and economic development said: “The District Heating Network will have a hugely positive impact on Queens Quay and Clydebank as a whole and we are delighted to welcome Vital Energi on board to help us deliver it.

“Once completed, the network will provide heating and hot water to existing buildings including Clydebank Leisure Centre and the Council office campus as well as serving the new homes. The Council aim to expand the network to include areas of Clydebank and Dalmuir and to address fuel poverty by providing affordable heat to local residents.”

The £15m energy project is being financed by West Dunbartonshire Council, which is covering 60% of the cost, while the Scottish Government has provided £6m in funding through the European Regional Development Fund via the Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Program (LCITP).

Water source heat pumps work in a similar fashion to both ground source and air source heat pumps. Pipework is submerged in a body of water, ideally a lake or river, absorbing heat from the water as the heat pump pushes low-temperature fluid through the pipes. The heat is then transferred to the energy centre to be pumped through the district heating network.

Funding chance

In 2016, the Scottish awarded a £1.6m loan to fund a water source heat pump in Lerwick, that will use seawater to add an extra 225 households to an existing heat network. A similar project was also funded for the University of Glasgow Western Campus’ plan to deploy a water source heat pump in the River Kelvin.

Research suggests that the installation of district heat networks could reduce the capital cost of the UK's heat networks by up to 40%. Research from the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) found that it is possible to reduce the cost of the nation’s low-carbon transition by as much as £3bn by using “innovative” solutions, including water source heat pumps.

Vital Energi’s operations manager Scott Lutton said: “This is a very exciting moment in the history of Scotland’s energy infrastructure. While there have been small open water source heat pumps in the past, this is by far the largest to date. 

“Water source heat pumps are a low-carbon technology which will become more effective in reducing emissions as the grid decarbonises and we hope that, when complete, it will prove an inspiration to other local authorities who want to reduce their carbon emissions.”

Matt Mace