In the press this week, though perhaps not beyond the Scottish border, was the announcement of plans for a new energy centre at Queens Quay, Clydebank.
‘So what?’ you may ask, but this is no standard facility.
The proposed District Heat Network will form part of the first phase of a £250million regeneration project at John Brown’s shipyard, and will serve the entire new development. As such it will become the largest and most ambitious network in Scotland.
Clydebank Regeneration Ltd and Dawn Urban Regeneration Ltd have capitalised upon the site’s location to design a water source heat pump approach that will extract water and its latent energy direct from the River Clyde. Boilers, distribution pumps and piping will then facilitate connection to the vast array of new buildings across the site as they are built, including the Clydebank College and Leisure Centre. And all of which can then be controlled remotely from site.
The technology itself is not cutting edge, but what is exciting about this project from an infrastructure and energy perspective is the scale and the foresight that has gone into it. By incorporating energy approaches like this, from the earliest opportunity, exceptional efficiencies are secured for not only the implementing developers, but also the early residents and users.
For example, the nearby Golden Jubilee Hospital will become immediate consumers, and provide a useful baseline of consumption from the outset. Alongside this the modular building design for the facility enables flexibility and future-proofing; as demand across the site grows, the building can grow to accommodate additional generation capacity.
Now I appreciate, not every site has a handy river running alongside it, and certainly not the scale of the River Clyde, but it is great to see the industry evolving new, innovative ways to utilise an asset like the River Clyde and not just capitalising upon the appeal of the waterside, to stimulate regeneration. This ingenious solution is using the water in a positive way, but must be considered and implemented at the earliest stages of new settlement proposals or regeneration schemes such as this, so financial support and maximum efficiencies can be secured.
The National Infrastructure Commission has highlighted the challenge we face as we continue to reduce our reliance on natural gas for heat. Whilst the obvious solution would be a switch to electricity to provide heat, this will require a massive increase in the UK’s generating capacity. A combination of technologies will therefore be critical if we are to move to a low carbon future. District heating schemes are one component of this and would go a long way to addressing the UK wide challenge of fuel poverty, at the same time.
Watch this space.
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