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UK: An award-winning district heating system, employing the UK’s first large-scale, high temperature water source heat pump, has been officially opened in Glasgow.

Part of a £250m regeneration project, the ground-breaking district heating system was commissioned by West Dunbartonshire Council in 2019, in conjunction with Star Renewable Energy (Star Refrigeration’s renewable heating business) and developers Vital Energi. The renewable energy system will provide affordable low carbon heating and hot water to around 1,200 homes and businesses across an entire district.

The Queen’s Quay district heating system uses pioneering heat pump technology to extract cold water from the River Clyde at a rate of 125 l/sec. Two 2.65MW ammonia heat pumps increase the temperature of the river water from 6-12°C, up to 80°C. Hot water is then supplied via a 2.5km pipe network to heat residential and commercial buildings across the 23-hectare development.

Local dignitaries are shown around the plant by Star Refrigeration MD Andy Pearson

“There is extraordinary potential for water source heat pumps to be deployed across the UK by extracting heat from rivers, canals and coastline,” said Star Refrigeration’s group sustainable development director, Dave Pearson. 

“With a ban on gas heating for new homes coming into effect in 2025, many building developers and local authorities are interested in exploring low carbon options. To encourage uptake, we need a joined-up and incentivised UK energy policy to ensure renewable energy schemes are economically supported.”

Inspired by the success of the Queen’s Quay project, many local authorities are now looking to invest in large scale district heating systems. Star Renewable Energy and Vital Energi report that they are now currently working with a number of clients to help them achieve their vision and develop further heat pump projects in the UK.

The Queen’s Quay district heating system was recently awarded a top accolade by the European Heat Pump Association (EHPA), receiving the Heat Pump City of the Year title.

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