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Scottish trial begins for decarbonising heat

28 Jan 22 A £5m Scottish project has been launched to explore how electricity networks can respond to the increase in demand from decarbonising heat.

Sunamp thermal storage units are being used in the project
Sunamp thermal storage units are being used in the project

The Scottish Government, SP Energy Networks and Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) Distribution have launched a trial called Project Re-Heat to decarbonise homes in Highland and across Scotland.

The project – which is claimed to be an industry first - will trial how electricity networks can respond to the increase in electricity demand created by decarbonising heat. Re-Heat will see the trial of heat pumps and thermal storage in domestic homes and the project will explore how electricity networks can respond flexibly to the increase in demand created by decarbonisation.

The Scottish government and Scotland’s distribution network operators - SP Energy Networks and Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) Distribution - have come together to accelerate the decarbonisation of heating in Scotland through the project.

With support from delivery partner E.ON and heat pump manufacturer Daikin, the trial will see 150 heat pumps in total installed in domestic homes across three local authority areas, with 50 of those in Highland. The heat pumps will be connected to thermal storage units developed by Sunamp, enabling customers to be more flexible on the times they use electricity for heating.

Smart grid controls and smart heating management with domestic heat storage will enable Re-Heat to demonstrate technical solutions designed to accelerate the deployment of low-carbon electrified heating while reducing demand on the electricity network. This should in turn reduce or remove the need for transitional network upgrades.

Councillor Trish Robertson, who chairs Highland council’s climate change working group, said: “I warmly welcome this interesting project which will gather information to assist us in our decarbonisation efforts.

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“Careful consideration of where these homes are situated will provide valuable data which will help us decide on the best options and solutions for each particular area. Anything which can reduce people's bills, as well as our carbon footprint, is welcome.”

Scott Mathieson, network planning and regulation director at SP Energy Networks, said: “Achieving net-zero emissions by 2045 will only be possible if we begin to work on real solutions to support the decarbonisation of heat now. Our electricity networks are at the heart of the transition to a low carbon Scotland, but we need to ensure they are able to cope with the significant increase in demand we’re projecting as more and more low carbon heating solutions are connected into our network.

“This flagship project has the potential to be replicated across the country if it’s successful and we look forward to working with the Scottish government, SSEN, local authorities and our industry partners to find a way to support this massive step-change in a way that will enable all our communities to work towards a net-zero future.”

Stewart Reid, head of future networks at Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks, added: “We have 7,500 heat pumps already installed on our network across the north of Scotland and anticipate this will increase to half a million by the middle of this century. Project Re-Heat will be vital to build our understanding of how we manage this cost effectively and ensure our network is ready.

“We are delighted to be working with the Scottish government and SP Energy Networks. Through this project, we look forward to tackling the challenges and identifying how to provide the critical infrastructure needed to support net zero.”

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