Midlothian Council eyes Amsterdam-style heat network as deal signed with Swedish firm

Midlothian Council offices (Image: Google)

MIDLOTHIAN Council has partnered with Swedish state owned firm, Vattenfall, to launch a new energy services company (ESCo).

The local authority said that the initiative will help deliver low carbon energy projects across the constituency, with the first development set to be a low carbon heating network to supply the new Shawfair town on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

Contractor FCC Environment, which operates Edinburgh and Midlothian councils’ energy from waste facility (EfW) near Millerhall, will supply low carbon heat to the district heat network. The EfW is fuelled by residual waste collected by Midlothian, Edinburgh and East Lothian councils.

The council said that the 40 year agreement with the ESCo will bring projects to the value of £100 million, with future developmnents including potentially expanding the district heating network into areas of East Lothian and Edinburgh – creating a network similar in scale to those delivered in European cities such as Amsterdam.

Low temperature heat networks operate efficiently so that they can reduce the temperature of the heat supply down to approximately 50°C. This low temperature operation makes it easier to incorporate heat pumps, which will operate more efficiently at lower temperatures. When compared to older heat networks and traditional gas heating systems, low temperature heat systems are cheaper to operate and maintain.

These networks can also be adapted to take heat from many sources, such as sewage works and data centres. Midlothian Council added that they are also working with the coal authority and Vattenfall to investigate the potential for capturing heat from mine water at the former Monktonhall Colliery for heat storage and supply.

Midlothian Council’s cabinet member for economic development, councillor Russell Imrie said, “Today is a milestone in our commitment to delivering green energy projects to benefit local communities and businesses while helping us achieve our council ambition of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

“We’re looking forward to working with Vattenfall, including on our first project with Shawfair LLP and FCC Environment.”

Eoghan Maguire, director for Scotland and north UK at Vattenfall Heat UK said, “Vattenfall’s aim is to enable a life free from fossil fuels within one generation, something we cannot do alone. To make this happen, we are working with organisations like Midlothian Council to decarbonise the heat sector, the single biggest contributor to UK carbon emissions.

“This exciting Joint Venture with Midlothian Council is a platform for further growth in low-carbon energy in Scotland and the UK. The innovative Shawfair development will bring low carbon heat network technology to Scotland, building on Vattenfall’s experience in constructing and operating some of Europe’s fastest growing heat networks.”

Dr Paul Moseley, associate director at the Scottish Futures Trust, added, “The launch of Midlothian Energy represents a major step towards decarbonising heat supplies to buildings in the area. The use of a joint venture is an innovative approach to delivering heat networks in Scotland and plays to the strengths of the public and private sector partners. I look forward to continuing to work with Midlothian Council and Vattenfall to help the ESCo achieve the best possible outcomes for the people and businesses of Midlothian.”

Nick Waugh, a director of Shawfair LLP, said, “Our vision for Shawfair is centred on landscape, community and sustainability. Today’s announcement reinforces our commitment to a zero-carbon future and will support the entire fabric of this emerging community. We very much look forward to working with ESCo to deliver this innovative district heating network.”