Nicola Sturgeon meets the team behind Scotland’s largest water source heat pump for district heating

Published by Brian Coyle on

First Minister Visits Neatpumps

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon visited the Star Refrigeration manufacturing facilities in Thornliebank yesterday to announce the ‘Low Carbon Challenge Fund’ (LCCF), a new funding programme which will make up to £6 million available for projects that help both small and medium sized enterprises across Scotland take advantage of the opportunities afforded by the low carbon economy.

The Scottish Enterprise managed fund will also be available to public, third sector and academic institutions that seek to advance the low carbon capabilities of SMEs across the country.

Star was chosen to host Ms Sturgeon due to its high profile work in the ‘clean heat’ sector, for which it has received numerous awards and accolades. The First Minister visited the company’s water source heat pumps manufactured by Star’s subsidiary, Star Renewable Energy, for the £250m Queens Quay regeneration project in Clydebank – one of the UK’s most innovative energy projects.

“Star Refrigeration is a great example of how tackling climate change can also be good for jobs and business. As we prepare to host the UN Climate Change Summit – COP26 – in Glasgow in November, it is fitting that Scottish companies are providing practical solutions to the environmental issues our world faces,” the First Minister said.

The announcement of the fund is one more step towards Scotland’s target of ending its contribution to global climate change by 2045, and Star is pioneering technology in order to make this happen. Earlier this month, Director of Star Renewable Energy Dave Pearson supported a report calling for the Scottish Government to announce a transformative Climate Emergency Scottish Budget to support the country’s goal to net-zero emissions by 2045.

The 5.2.MW heat pumps at Queens Quay is Scotland’s first large scale water source heat pump for district heating. It takes water from the River Clyde and uses it to deliver hot water and heating to connecting homes, businesses and public buildings in the surrounded area. The Queen’s Quay development will also see the creation of 1,000 private homes and 200 homes for social rent. 

The heat pumps will significantly contribute to the target of reducing CO2 emissions as the heat from these units will deliver 70% lower carbon than burning gas and 100% less air pollutant NOx emissions. It will deliver heat at 80 degrees Celsius, a temperature warm enough to retrofit old buildings as well as new ones. In addition, the ground-breaking technology uses ammonia, a natural refrigerant, offering zero global warming potential and zero ozone depletion.

Dave Pearson, Director of Star Renewable Energy, said “We were thrilled to welcome Nicola Sturgeon to have a first-hand look at the Queens Quay regeneration project, which is to be delivered by our partners Vital Energi this year, as she announced the Low Carbon Challenge Fund.

“Scotland must be ready to innovate, broaden supply chains, train more staff and change the way businesses view energy. First, we have to work out how to drive the demand for clean heat. We enjoy some of the cheapest gas in Europe (subsidised more than any other EU nation (£10.5b) according to a recent EU report). We have three choices in moving 100% away from fossil fuel for heating in 25 years:

1st – Ignore it and face the consequences of the climate disaster with Australian bushfires and worldwide flooding just the tip of the iceberg,

2nd– Focus early activity on emerging technologies like hydrogen which is being heavily touted. However, in order for hydrogen technology to reach scale, it relies on imported fossil fuels at increased volume, not yet scaled carbon capture, more complex processes and a not yet fit for purpose gas grid – all of which must add up to higher costs. Hydrogen or another gas such as ammonia is best used for trickier “last resort” gaps. Pockets of electrically resourced fuel could be useful for hard to reach later gaps.

3rd – Deploy heat pumps which are known to work. There are several barriers to the wider adoption and several identified but as yet missing pieces in the policy that leads to investment business models. All that stands between stasis and a tsunami of deployment opportunity is paperwork.

Unfortunately, options 1 and 2 will not deliver progress at the pace required by Committee on Climate Change analysis.

Option 3 delivers lower CO2 emissions, cleaner air, lower imports, more flexible demand on the grid and vast employment opportunities across the country.”

“I hope Governments north and south of the border can work at this early in 2020, extending the Renewable Heat Incentive (ending 2021), removing non-domestic rates (adding 50% to the cost of clean heat),  making the Climate Change Levy costs match the higher damage caused by gas (it is 6x as heavy on electricity per kg CO2) and smoothing planning consents (it is easier to get consent to deploy a gas pipe than a heating water pipe) but above all creating a shared obligation for every business to decarbonise their assets and their customers assets.

“Only by harnessing known technologies in the greatest volume with the maximum flow towards lowest risk investment can we hope to keep heating costs anywhere near where they are now.”

Scottish Enterprise Chief Executive Steve Dunlop said: “This financial support for SMEs is intended to support the development of new low carbon solutions to harness opportunities and move from a climate emergency to a climate opportunity.

“Scottish Enterprise is working with partners to meet Scotland’s net zero target and ultimately provide the right environment for businesses to focus on more sustainable ways of working and the Low Carbon Challenge Fund is part of that.

Read more about The Low Carbon Challenge Fund which is supported by the European Regional Development Fund here.