£20m District Heating System Planned For Midlothian

Aug 10, 2021

Midlothain Council in western Scotland has signed up to a 40-year deal to provide a district heating system for the community. The £20m energy centre will be built at Millerhill, and the council has ruled that it will not need an environmental impact assessment to go ahead, the Midlothian Advertiser reports.

The council will work with Swedish state energy firm Vattenfall to build and set up the scheme, which is expected to save over 2,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. It is hoped that the new network will eventually provide heat for up to 3,000 homes in the area.

Sweden makes far greater use of district heating than the UK. The green energy schemes heat over half of the country’s commercial and residential buildings. They make use of heat that would otherwise have gone to waste, such as surplus heat from industry, and from fuel sources that are sustainable, such as woodchip and forest by-produce.

The UK has plans to install more district heating schemes by 2030, in order to help meet the government’s carbon neutral targets. They have a far lower carbon footprint than fossil fuel heat sources, and are also very cost-effective. The schemes do require some significant alteration to infrastructure, in order to install the necessary miles of pipe networks.

The Millerhill site in Midlothian will be built alongside its recycling and energy recovery centre, which will provide fuel for the heating network. Underground pipes will run adjacent to a strip of woodland which will be subject to a tree survey, and existing native trees will be retained where possible.

There will be a back-up boiler in case of disruption to supply. The report by Vattenfall said “the back-up boiler is to be electric-powered and required less than 876 hours per year, only during periods of maintenance or outage from the RERC facility”. 

Up to £7.3m of the £20m funding is to come from the Scottish Government’s Low Carbon Infrastructure Transformation Programme.

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