Glasgow’s first high temperature water source heat pump

Glasgow’s first high temperature water source heat pump

Star Renewable Energy were one of the star turns (please excuse the terrible pun) at Scotland’s All-Energy Exhibition and Conference last week. Thousands of professionals from throughout the industry attended the showcase event in Glasgow and local low carbon water source heat pump manufacturers discussed the challenges of implementing industrial scale water source heat pumps.

Star Renewable director Dave Pearson, taking part in one of the conference’s panel discussions talked about the Gorbals Heat Pump project which is expected to provide heating to residential properties and businesses in the immediate area. The heat pump which will be deployed in the River Clyde in Glasgow is the UK’s first high temperature and largest inner-city water source heat pump and will deliver immediate 50% carbon reductions by providing up to 80% of connected building’s heat requirements.

Mr. Pearson said “We are determined to deliver Scottish government goals to decarbonised the heat system by 2050. Industrial sized heat pumps which draw warmth from the easy to find and assess rivers, lakes, and the sea will play a key role in achieving carbon reduction targets as they are a proven technology capable of delivering zero carbon heat on a large scale for both district heating and industrial process purposes. However as we travel further in this journey we find unexpected and unintended barriers needing swift resolutions. We must get better at solving these barriers or little progress swill be made.

“Star is looking forward to continuing the project with a successful partnership of all parties involved, and at the conference we have hopefully made the case for more heat pump projects across the UK. By far the most bizarre challenge is that energy centres and district heating are likely to have to pay non-domestic rates. So whilst we sell £130k of heat we have to give 75% of that revenue back to the local government in tax when the dirty gas boilers which are emitting CO2 and NOx pay nothing. It’s just a mistake but if we don’t fix it we will be have to point fingers and ask tough questions as to why this isn’t being resolved. We hear of the Barclay review but how hard is to spot a mistake and fix it?”

As part of the exhibition, Star developed a virtual reality simulation of a heat pump to display at the exhibition with advice from Strathclyde University in Glasgow. The VR simulation depicted the water source heat pump and its enclosure, as a realistic interpretation of the Gorbals installation which harvests heat from the river water to provide low carbon, affordable heating and hot water to homes and businesses.

As more industrial scale heat pumps are installed they will start to make up a larger portion of our renewable energy mix. With the resources in place within most cities and towns and the costs of the technology continuing to fall it makes sense that more will be deployed in the near future. It also makes sense with the energy they supply being clean, renewable, and low carbon.

However Mr. Pearson makes a valid point regarding non-domestic rates. As a country we are trying to advance our energy infrastructure and move away from carbon heavy technologies in order to reduce our carbon emissions and to create a cleaner environment for all. However the policy of applying the rates to this type of project but not to the traditional carbon intensive industries does not help matters. It restricts research and development in the industry, makes it more likely for individual projects to fail and discourages new projects from taking off. In addition it is just not heat pumps that this affects but also wind turbine projects.

If we are serious about becoming 100% renewable then this has to be re-assessed as soon as possible to ensure a fairer system is applied to all energy producers and help create the clean, renewable future we strive for.


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