From waste to low-carbon heating for Midlothian homes

Midlothian Council and Vattenfall Heat UK, part of Swedish state-owned energy company Vattenfall AB, have formed a 50/50 joint venture to deliver low-carbon heat to homes and businesses within the Midlothian area.

Midlothian Energy Limited will explore possibilities to capture waste heat from industrial  processes to supply customers via new district heating networks, and have signed a contract with Shawfair LLP to facilitate heat network connections for homes and businesses in the new town at Shawfair.

Construction of the initial district heating network, supplying around 3,000 homes, education and retail properties at Shawfair Town in the north of Midlothian Council area is expected to begin this year and deliver heat to homes by 2024. This initial phase is expected to save over 2,500 tonnes of CO2 per year, the equivalent of taking 1,200 cars off the road. The project will benefit from up to £7.3m from the Scottish Government’s Low Carbon Infrastructure Transformation Project (LCITP).

Midlothian Energy Limited will capture heat that would otherwise be wasted to provide homes with low-carbon heat from Millerhill recycling and energy recovery centre (RERC), operated by FCC Environment. The facility is fueled by residual waste collected from residents and businesses in the area. This supply of heat will not only guarantee low-carbon heat for the new town of Shawfair, but will be the catalyst for a wider regional network stretching into south Edinburgh and East Lothian. The Shawfair development is a key feature of the Midlothian Energy Limited 5-year business plan to supply low-carbon heat to over 30,000 households.

The waste heat captured and supplied by Midlothian Energy Limited will be cheaper than alternative low-carbon sources and not affected by the current wholesale energy cost inflation, thus protecting customers from market volatility through long-term lower prices for heat supply. Vattenfall’s modelling suggests the heat networks in Midlothian could reduce emissions by up to 90% in comparison to individual gas boilers fitted in every home.

At present, 86% of Scottish households rely on fossil fuels to keep warm, highlighting the scale of the challenge for the low-carbon heat transition. Vattenfall have developed a strategyto deliver city-wide district heating that is capable of supplying heat to the equivalent of 170,000 homes in Midlothian, Edinburgh and East Lothian by 2050. These future projects will see district heating networks grow and combine other sources of waste heat creating a network similar in scale to those delivered by Vattenfall in major European cities, suchas Amsterdam, which has been realised over the last 25 years.