Rivers and green spaces hailed as ‘vital low-carbon heat sources’

Rivers flowing through Scotland’s cities and the green spaces between buildings can serve as key low-carbon heat sources in meeting climate change goals, according to a new report.

The study “Green heat in green spaces” suggests using heat pump technologies in urban rivers and green spaces as alternative large-scale, low-carbon heat generators.

This could potentially meet almost 80% of the heating needs of Scottish cities and save 4.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

Last month we launched a consultation on our strategy for heating in buildings.

From Monday, March 8th, 7 virtual workshops will take place to help shape the strategy.

Find out more, register for a workshop or take part in the consultation here ⤵️https: //t.co/CEvv86VU8W pic.twitter.com/jK2aRQZnmI

– ScotGovEnergy (@ScotGovEnergy) March 2, 2021

The Scottish Government’s latest draft of the “Heat In Buildings” strategy calls for the country to disconnect 1 million homes and 50,000 non-residential buildings from the main gas network by 2030 and convert 167,000 buildings that are currently disconnected from the main gas network into more environmentally friendly sources of heat.

Heat pumps, which are widely used in countries such as Sweden, Norway and Austria, can extract some of the solar heat from the air, water or soil and concentrate it through a process in which refrigerant gases are compressed to a small volume.

Small increases in temperature can significantly increase the heat of the water before it is transferred to a single building or hundreds of buildings. The latter require a system of interconnected underground water pipes known as a district heating network.

The report highlights Scotland’s best example of the technology used as a recently launched program on Queens Quay in West Dunbartonshire. There, heat is extracted from the River Clyde and delivered to a number of new buildings on the site of the former John Brown Shipyard.

Julie Procter, General Manager of Greenspace Scotland said: “Wind turbines are a familiar sight these days and produce clean, green electricity.

“Scotland has an enviable track record in converting to renewable electricity sources.

“However, we remain at the bottom of the European ranking for renewable heating as only 7% of our heating needs are met from low carbon sources.

“The Green Heat in Green Spaces study shows that Scotland has huge natural reserves of heat in its waters and under its green spaces, but we’ve barely scratched the surface in terms of its use.”

New research on green heat in green spaces was published today

With heat pump technology, Scotland’s urban rivers and green spaces could provide 79% of our cities’ heating needs. Https://t.co/5zT0q9PPSF#ParkPower #renewableenergy #NetZero #greenheat pic.twitter.com/sXacNi0jst

– Grassland Scotland (@greenspacescot) May 20, 2021

While cities like Perth, Aberdeen, Stirling and Inverness are considered ideal candidates for large river heating systems, Glasgow is said to have the greatest capacity to offset its carbon footprint.

Glasgow City Councilor Anna Richardson, Sustainability and Carbon Reduction Organizer, said: “We have been heavily involved as partners in the Green Heat in Greenspace program to study how our green and blue spaces are being used to support renewable energy sources can.

“We recognize the enormous untapped potential of using these assets to address our climate and energy challenges without negatively impacting current users.

“Glasgow owes much of its industrial supremacy to its location on the Clyde and is a resource that is always available.

“As the world’s attention turns to Glasgow for Cop26 in the coming months, innovative low carbon heating solutions like this show how the city can meet its 21st century challenges.”

Congratulations also to @MathesonMichael, Scotland’s first cabinet secretary for Net Zero, Energy & Transport. We look forward to working with you to meet our ambitious emissions targets and make # COP26 in Glasgow a success. pic.twitter.com/XgubL1VHKb

– wwfscotland 🌍 (@WWFScotland) May 19, 2021

Holly O’Donnell, Climate and Energy Policy Manager, WWF Scotland, said: “This report makes it clear that a huge source of low carbon heat is hidden within sight.

“With home heating accounting for almost a quarter of Scotland’s climate emissions, it is important that we harness this resource by building the networks that can bring this heat into our homes and buildings.

“The Scottish Government needs to accelerate the adoption of this technology to meet our climate goals and create the green jobs of the future.”

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