Vattenfall uses sustainable waste energy to power Scotland

Using waste heat from sources like waste plants and mines is a no-brainer in tackling the climate crisis says Jenny Curtis, MD of Vattenfall Heat UK

In a bid to boost renewable power in Scotland, Vattenfall Heat UK and Midlothian Council have launched Midlothian Energy Limited, a joint venture set to provide low carbon heating in the former coal mining region of Midlothian with a  five-year business plan to supply low-carbon heat to over 30,000 households.

At present, 86% of Scotland relies on fossil fuels to heat their homes; Vattenfall’s strategy is to deliver city-wide district heating that is capable of supplying heat to the equivalent of 170,000 homes in Midlothian, Edinburgh and East Lothian by 2050. 

“Meeting Scotland’s ambitious target of reaching net zero by 2045 means collaborations like this are crucial,” says Eoghan Maguire, Head of Joint Ventures at Vattenfall and Director of Midlothian Energy Limited.

“Midlothian Energy will provide a huge step forward on the road to reducing the use of fossil fuels in heating, and we expect up to 900 jobs to be created through the heat networks Vattenfall is proposing in Scotland. Vattenfall delivers heat to 1.9 million customers across Europe and has similar ambitions for the UK. In suitable urban and suburban areas, district heating can be deployed rapidly, at scale and at affordable cost to consumers. The UK simply cannot reach net zero without it.”

Partnerships promoting sustainability 

​The ambitious long-term business plan to invest £100m in low-carbon energy projects, including heating, over the next five years is a collaboration between the Scottish Government, Vattenfall, Midlothian Council, FCC Environment and Shawfair LLP to harness waste heat from the Millerhill Recycling and Energy Recovery Centre to supply the district heating network.

Plans for expansion include utilising other waste heat sources, such as mine workings, to offer sustainable heating solutions to more homes and businesses, aligning with Scotland’s net zero targets.

“Without the rapid deployment of heat networks at scale it is simply not possible for Scotland to reach its ambitious net zero by 2045 targets,” explains Jenny Curtis, Managing Director at Vattenfall Heat UK.

“Using waste heat from sources like energy from waste plants and mine workings is a no-brainer. The heat is already there, all we need is the urgent deployment of low carbon heating infrastructure to capture it and supply it to local residents and businesses.” 

Low carbon energy solution

Construction of the initial district heating network, supplying around 3,000 homes, education and retail properties at Shawfair Town in the north of Midlothian Council area is expected to deliver heat to homes by 2024. This phase is expected to save over 2,500 tonnes of CO2 per year, the equivalent of taking 1,200 cars off the road, and will benefit from up to £7.3m from the Scottish Government’s Low Carbon Infrastructure Transformation Project (LCITP).

The waste heat captured and supplied by Midlothian Energy Limited will be cheaper than alternative low-carbon sources and not affected by the current wholesale energy cost inflation, thus protecting customers from market volatility through long-term lower prices for heat supply. Vattenfall’s modelling suggests the heat networks in Midlothian could reduce emissions by up to 90% in comparison to individual gas boilers fitted in every home.

“A key priority for Midlothian Energy is to contribute towards the challenge of reducing fuel poverty,” says Councillor Dianne Alexander, Midlothian Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment.

“During this current cost of living crisis, this project will provide a positive contribution to sheltering customers from market volatility and securing lower prices for heat for them.” 



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