Glasgow professor urges Scots to use heat from rivers – or lose it to the sea

 

Star Renewable Energy's Neatpump in Drammen, Norway
Star Renewable Energy’s Neatpump in Drammen, Norway

A top academic has urged Scots to harness the hidden heat in their rivers using “game changing” heat pump technology – or face being left behind in a technology race with Scandinavia.

Professor Paul Younger, Rankine Chair of Engineering at Glasgow University, today warns Scotland not to ignore the potential of watercourses and deep mine workings as a source of warmth.  

Modern heat pumps use small amounts of electricity to turn cool water from rivers and lakes into hot water. Technology developed in Scotland is already being used to heat 2˚C water from a fjord in Norway to 90˚C.

Speaking before a renewable energy event at Glasgow University, to be held in conjunction with Star Renewable Energy on September 10, Prof Younger said: “As is so often the case, the Norwegians saw the light earlier than us, and heat-pump technology built on the Clyde is now heating the city of Drammen by extracting thermal energy from deep fjord waters.  

“Meanwhile the Clyde, Forth, Moray, Tay, Solway – our own ‘fjords’, and the source of the word ‘firth’ – flow by, delivering their renewable thermal content to the open ocean unused while heat poverty is such a problem for so many.”  

Heat pumps – hailed as “game changing” by UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey in March – were first described by William Thomson, the first Lord Kelvin, at Glasgow University in 1852.  

Professor Younger added: “It’s now time for Scotland to focus its attention on the potential for heat pump technology to deliver low carbon heat at reasonable cost. After all, we should be making the most of one thing Scotland will always have in super-abundance: water.”  

Water from underground mine workings can also be used to feed heat pumps. Professor Younger’s research has found that of less than 20 examples of this worldwide, two are in Scotland – one heating homes in Shettleston, Glasgow, and another in Lumphinnans, Fife.

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