Vattenfall will work with the council - which recently declared a climate emergency - to set up a new Energy Services Company (ESCo). The 50/50 joint venture will focus on delivering a wide range of energy projects across the area. Over the lifetime of the ESCo projects to the total value of over £100m are anticipated.
The first project will be a fourth-generation, low-carbon district heating network serving the new Shawfair town on the outskirts of Edinburgh. The network will benefit from heat supplied by FCC Environment, which operates Edinburgh and Midlothian’s energy-from-waste facility (EfW) near Millerhill.
Midlothian Council aims to sign a 40-year agreement with the ESCo to supply heat to the new public buildings to be built at the new Shawfair town. The new company will negotiate final contracts with its main initial partners, FCC Environment and Shawfair. FCC will supply the low-carbon heat and Shawfair will facilitate the connections to new domestic and commercial developments in the town. This first £20m project will benefit from financial support of up to £7.3m from the Scottish Government’s Low Carbon Infrastructure Transformation Project, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.
Future projects to be undertaken by the ESCo will include the potential expansion of the district heating network into areas of East Lothian and Edinburgh, creating a network similar in scale to those delivered in major cities throughout Europe, such as Amsterdam. The network is intended to bring the latest in heat network technology to Scotland, built as a low temperature network.
The council said that low-temperature heat networks bring with them many benefits - including lower costs, maintenance, and an ability to adapt to take heat from many sources of waste heat, including sewage works and data centres. The potential for using the former Monktonhall Colliery for heat storage and supply will also be investigated.
Beyond district heating projects the ESCo may be asked to consider Solar PV, Electric Vehicle charging and direct wire electricity supplies to commercial properties.
Midlothian Council’s cabinet member for economic development, Councillor Russell Imrie, said : "We’re very excited to be working with Vattenfall to set up an energy services company for innovative new projects benefitting local residents and businesses in the area and setting us well on our way to a carbon neutral future. Working closely on our first project with Shawfair LLP, the local developer, and FCC Environment, our existing ‘zero waste contractor’, we look forward to delivering another major pathfinding project for Scotland."
Tuomo Hattaka, senior vice president of Vattenfall Heat said, “We’re delighted to have been selected by Midlothian Council for this long-term energy partnership that puts low-carbon, fossil-free living front and centre of its ambition. Any organisation or company serious about reaching net zero has low-carbon heating at the top of its to do list, and this energy partnership is no different.”
Mike Reynolds, managing director of Vattenfall Heat UK added: “Midlothian has an abundance of local, low-carbon heat potential which means that we can begin the partnership’s work with the installation of a state-of-the-art heat network that will deliver affordable, low carbon heating to local homes at the Shawfair development.”
Ed Monaghan, a director of Shawfair LLP, said: "This is a welcome step forward in our plans to create a sustainable new town. A district heating system for Shawfair’s town centre, powered by surplus, zero-carbon heat from the adjacent energy-from-waste facility means that homes, business and community buildings in the centre will reap the benefit of lower-cost energy bills. We look forward to working with Vattenfall together with Midlothian Council and SEPA to bring to life our collective ambitions set out in our Sustainable Growth Agreement."
Paul Taylor, group chief executive of FCC Environment said: “This news is a hugely positive step enabling, as it will, the use of the heat that the combustion process creates improving yet further the efficiency of the plant. Feeding into the planned district heating network on the plant’s doorstep will allow, not just us at FCC Environment, but all parties involved to realise a vision of the future place for Energy from Waste facilities such as Millerhill across the UK.”
The details of agreements are now being worked up with a view to signing the contract by the middle of this year.