So there’s a lot happened in the last fifteen months……
Firstly we raised £25,000 from Local Energy Scotland’s Phase One Local Energy Challenge Fund (LECF) to put together a bid for our project to install solar PV on the roofs of the Vennel flats and use this power to pump heat from wastewater flowing beneath the Linlithgow streets.
By a miraculous effort, led by the indefatigable Neil Barnes, and with a superb team, we submitted our comprehensive application for £1.974m in second phase LECF grant and loan funding with two minutes to spare before the 16.00hrs deadline last Friday 12th February.
We’ll be posting the entire bid document in due course once we’ve updated this site, but in the meantime here’s the ‘Project Details’ section by way of an appetiser.
Linlithgow Natural Grid’s (LNG) ‘Heat from the Street’ (HftS) project aims to install the first node in an innovative and expandable Linlithgow Heat Network.
A new Energy Centre will be installed, utilising recovered heat from sewer wastewater and powered by solar electricity, with underground district heating links initially connecting six nationally prestigious historic community buildings in the centre of Linlithgow, including St Michael’s Church, Burgh Halls and Linlithgow Palace (birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots).
Inspired by the ‘energy saving’ business model James Watt applied to users of his more efficient steam engines, and by the Danish approach to investment in energy savings and low carbon technologies, Heat from the Street is likely to be the first project in Scotland, combining heat recovery and solar electricity to deliver community benefit to a small, historic town.
The unique economic model to be implemented is based on investment, both in finance capital and potentially in the use of public assets, to deliver shared savings in natural gas and electricity use, with the renewable heat generation to benefit from the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).
A key feature of this project will be the creation of a new Community Energy Dividend targeted primarily at vulnerable residents in fuel poverty residing in the Vennel apartment blocks adjacent to the energy centre. Solar PV panels will be installed on the Vennel flat-surfaced roofs to power the nearby Energy Centre, with year round top-up supplies from the grid.
As part of that connectivity, Vennel residents will benefit from a fund for energy-saving measures, once the district heating scheme is operational. Options being considered include grants and low interest loans for draft proofing, glazing upgrades, and insulation measures that would not otherwise be affordable for residents.
The energy centre will house a sewer wastewater heat recovery system, combined with heat exchanger and water-based heat pumps to raise flow temperatures to desired levels for buildings connected to the district heating network.
The building owners – St Michael’s Church (of Scotland), Historic Environment Scotland (HES) and West Lothian Council (WLC) – will be founder members of a new bespoke LNG legal entity, akin to a new community-led energy services cooperative, which will develop further community energy projects over time through reinvestment of energy savings and expansion of the heat and power network. This is consistent with LNG’s core objective of energy independence for the town.
The ‘shared savings’ partnership model allows members connected to the heat network to reduce their per kWh costs by at least 10%, and receive an end of year cash dividend or saving, depending on their actual level of consumption. This incentivises ongoing improvements in energy efficiency. The integration of renewable electricity from the solar PV installation means that the effective cost of delivered heat can be fixed for 20 years.
In a traditional ESCO, profit from the sale of heat to end users would be retained by the heat supplier, whereas in this model all income will be reinvested in the heat infrastructure, used to provide a Community Energy Dividend, or returned to the users as energy cost savings.
If successful, there is scope for future expansion of the network to supply additional users and connect new heat sources. ‘Phase 3’ of the heat network aims to source heat from Linlithgow Loch water, and discussions are well underway with the above key partners and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology on this subject.
Last but not least, the LNG Heat from the Street Partnership propose to include an information hub for a range of bespoke community education activities, enhancing people’s understanding of the heat network, and its links to local cultural history.
This project will help establish a new renewable resource that is widely distributed throughout Scotland, but particularly in urban areas: recovered heat from wastewater. Accessing this resource and creating a viable economic model for its extraction, distribution and use requires collaboration between a range of local and national stakeholders. It can also be optimized by leveraging another widely available renewable resource in the form of solar PV.
Above all the development of new wastewater heat projects needs local community support for the new infrastructure required. The Linlithgow Heat from the Street project will provide the template for that model, by bringing together the required partners, integrating efficiently with the local electricity grid, and maximising the local consumption of locally produced renewable heat and electricity.