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Company has opted to invest in its existing Scottish manufacturing site to develop and research more efficient low carbon heat solutions to address anticipated growth in demand

Mitsubishi Electric is to invest £15.3m in its Scottish manufacturing operations to overhaul heat pump manufacturing to address both UK and European demand for low carbon systems.

The funding will be spent at the group’s existing manufacturing plant in Livingston to increase productivity and efficiency for the production and research of heat pump systems.

Both ground and air source heat pumps are currently produced at the company’s Livingston site. Both technologies are expected to see increased demand as governments look to shift away from fossil fuel heating up to 2050 to meet net zero targets, according to Mitsubishi.

One major focus of the funding will be to create a ‘smart factory’ that the manufacturer says will support research into next generation heat pump technologies that focuses on more sustainable materials and systems, as well as their compatibility with lower GWP refrigerants.

Mitsubishi stated, “Following investigations, the company will seek ways to incorporate the outputs into future product manufacturing to create world-leading products that reduce their overall environmental impact, while delivering renewable energy that is urgently required for meeting environmental goals and achieving net zero status.”

The COP26 factor

The announcement of the £15.3m investment has coincided with the start last week of the COP26 International Climate Change Conference that will this month seek to set out a range of new government and private sector commitments to curb carbon emissions.

The company has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Scottish Enterprise innovation body to create a low carbon heat pump centre of excellence in Scotland.

Under the terms of the agreement, Scottish Enterprise will be providing the manufacturer with £1.8m in grant funding as part of an agreement to create and protect jobs and technical engineering roles needed to support heat pump adoption, according to Mitsubishi Electric.

Scottish Enterprise chief executive officer Adrian Gillespie said that global interest in low carbon heating would create a major opportunity for manufacturers that can help address this demand via their supply chains. 

He said, “The technology developed by the company in Scotland and exported across Europe demonstrates the pioneering low carbon manufacturing innovation taking place here in Scotland, with global potential.”

“The MOU builds on the strong partnership we’ve developed with the company in the 28 years they have operated in Scotland and marks our commitment to a deeper strategic relationship that will support future growth and jobs for the company, its supply chain and the heat pump sector.”

Masao Nagano, president of Mitsubishi Electric Air-conditioning Systems Europe, noted that the MOU built on almost three decades of partnering with authorities in Scotland on the manufacture of heating systems with an eye on lower carbon technologies.

“We are developing our ‘smart factory’, where we can integrate automation and robotics equipment into operations, install industrial advanced sensing systems to provide real time information, and develop digital skills for our employees. Not only will this lower our own manufacturing emissions, it enables us to help our customers lower their emissions too.”

The funding follows recent commitments by the UK Government in its delayed Heating and Buildings Strategy to begin offering grants of up to £5,000 that can support heat pump adoption in 30,000 homes up to 2025.

 This is intended to support a wider target for 600,000 heat pumps to be installed annually from 2050.

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