Lerwick’s district heating scheme has become the first in the country to be recognised for its performance in a green European project, handled in the UK by the Building Research Establishment.
The Lerwick scheme has been issued with a label indicating its top rating in two out of three categories in the Ecoheat4cities project, and received just under top rating in the third.
Shetland Heat Energy and Power (Sheap) manager Neville Martin said: “We were very willing to participate in this scheme, we think that with district heating we’re in the forefront of the technology that will help produce the greatest carbon savings.”
Ecoheat4cities promotes understanding and information of district heating systems through a voluntary labelling system which uses a simple image of a flower to indicate its green credentials – the more petals coloured in the more energy efficient the system.
The three criteria are: the primary energy input; the CO2 efficiency; and “renewable share”. The lower the primary energy input in relation to the volume of heat supplied the greater the resource efficiency and the more flower petals are coloured in. The lower the CO2 emission per delivered MWh of thermal energy the more climate-friendly the system is and thus more flower petals.
The renewable share values the share of renewable and surplus heat in relation to the European and national renewable targets. Ecoheat4cities also works with district cooling schemes.
The aim of the labelling is to inform local decision-makers and investors in making renewable energy and energy efficiency choices, and demonstrating to the public that district heating and cooling is a viable and intelligent technology.
Besides participating in the European scheme, Mr Martin has also given advice to the Scottish Government Expert Commission, established earlier this year, on how district heating can be developed with a view to making a “major move” to the system in Scotland’s cities.
The commission’s report indicates that district heating, compared to other forms of heating, reduces carbon emissions by an average of 30 to 40 per cent and heating bills by the same amount. It creates jobs and retains wealth locally thanks to lower bills, and can be integrated with renewable systems such as wind turbines and solar thermal arrays.
Mr Martin said: “If our project with SSE incorporating our three wind turbines at Rova Head, which have planning permission, goes ahead, along with our large thermal storage tank, then I’m hoping our [energy efficiency] performance will improve further reducing the amount of oil we use.”
The government’s aspiration is, wherever possible, for public sector buildings in Scotland to be on district heating by 2020 to 2030 and a business case is being produced for the connection of multi-storey social housing.