It is encouraging to see how waste energy is being used. Mark McLaughlin writes in The Times about projects identified in Scotland.
Harnessing waste energy ‘could heat a fifth of Scottish homes in ten years’
Heat generated by industrial and natural sources could warm a fifth of Scotland’s homes within the next decade, renewable energy experts say.
Heat is often a wasted by-product of industrial processes that is either vented into the atmosphere, or requires even more energy to cool components. Scottish Renewables, a trade body, has identified 46 viable projects which are working to harness this excess energy and divert it into homes, where it can provide an environmentally-friendly alternative to gas heating.
Some schemes can also harness heat from natural sources such as Scotland’s rivers, which are not renowned for their balmy temperatures. One company, Star Renewable Energy, has installed a heat pump which can extract the small amount of heat generated by the Clyde. The river has an average temperature of around 10C but engineers can boost it up to 80C for use in homes.
The projects already have the potential to heat 45,000 homes, but with government investment this could increase to 460,000, almost a fifth of Scotland’s 2.46 million households, according to Scottish Renewables.
The heat networks make use of heat collected from sources as diverse as incinerators, sewers and buildings via underground pipes. The technology is well established in other countries including Denmark: Copenhagen is entirely heated this way.
Support schemes run by the UK and Scottish governments will soon end, despite both parliaments declaring a climate emergency. Scottish Renewables has called on the Scottish government to use its recently announced Heat Networks Bill to consider how to support the growth of heat networks.
Fabrice Leveque, senior policy manager at Scottish Renewables, said: “Heat networks are a mature technology that will allow us to grow our use of renewable heat. The Scottish government’s Heat Networks Bill should be at the heart of an ambitious strategy to stop Scotland from falling behind the rest of the UK in the deployment of this key climate solution.”
Mark Ruskell, the Scottish Green’s energy spokesman, said: “This report shows that industry has an appetite for ambitious, broad policies to decarbonise the way we heat our homes. The lack of ambition on this from the Scottish government is unacceptable. We are in a climate emergency yet four out of five homes in Scotland are still heated by gas, and some by oil and even coal.
“Recent figures show the Scottish government won’t even meet its own meagre target of 11 per cent renewable heat by next year. While it’s disappointing that Westminster cut the subsidy for green heating, we don’t have time to sit on our hands.”
Paul Wheelhouse, Scotland’s energy minister, said legislation was in place to unleash the potential of heat networks and added that the Scottish government had learned “a great deal” from working with the Danish government.