Paul Steen has a clear vision for the decarbonising of Scotland’s cities. “District heating is the obvious choice: it requires no major technological leaps or innovations, just ambition, scale and collaboration,” he says.
Steen is Head of Business Development North for Vattenfall, a Swedish multinational power company which generates power in Scandinavia, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
Vattenfall is considered a leader in the delivery of heat networks, driving the next generation of quality and fossil free-heat networks and Steen will be a keynote speaker at Green Heat 2023, a tracking transition event in Glasgow on March 22 presented by Energy Voice in partnership with Scottish Enterprise.
Partnerships at the core
Partnership is central to Steen and Vattenfall’s approach.
Mr Steen believes that by collaborating with like-minded organisations the company can use the abundance of heat sources already present in cities such as Glasgow and Edinburgh to fuel heat networks, making district heating the most cost-effective way to decarbonise heat in urban areas.
This collaborative approach was behind the creation of Midlothian Energy Limited in 2020, a 50/50 joint venture between Midlothian Council and Vattenfall Heat UK, which has an ambitious long-term business plan to invest £100 million in low-carbon energy projects with the aim of providing low-carbon heat to 170,0001 homes in the Midlothian and Edinburgh region by 2050.
Its Shawfield Heat Network, which is covered by a landmark sustainable growth agreement (SGA), signed by Midlothian Council, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and local developer Shawfair LLP, is expected to save over 2,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, which is the equivalent of taking 1,200 cars off the road.
FES group, a Scottish company has been awarded the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) to build the heat network.
“The value that comes from a joint venture is that in Vattenfall Midlothian Council has a partner with significant experience in developing and operating network assets that deliver heat to two million customers in northern Europe while we believe that building partnerships with local authorities is critical to our success,” says Steen.
“A collaborative framework that harnesses the enabling powers they have in planning, land and asset ownership means the local authority can put buildings and projects on to the heating network at scale – while It enables us to create a business plan that involves a significant amount of forward planned investment and a demonstrable return on that investment to both parties,” he says.
The exciting opportunity presented by district heating is, he adds, the fact that it is totally technology agnostic.
“We can take heat from industry, from data centres or waste plants, we can generate heat from heat pumps, store it over relatively long periods of time and put it back into the system.
“And in a world in which everyone must decarbonise we can centralise the investments and share the costs, rather than everyone having to invest in their own individual heat pumps,” he says.
This is clearly welcome news in Scotland, where 22% of carbon emissions come from home heating and which has ambitious heat network targets.
There is also a supportive environment being developed for heat networks, involving initiatives such as Scotland’s Heat Network Fund and the Heat Network Support Unit.
Value of shared ambition
The message that Steen will be bringing to Green Heat 2023 is that the Scottish Government, local authorities, and several private sector organisations – including Vattenfall – have a shared ambition and several important solutions to the challenge, and that city-wide heath networks have an important role to play.
“The danger I anticipate is that we continue to pursue individual courses of actions and that without collecting that into the frameworks and institutions we need we’ll inevitably miss out on crucial opportunities.
“We must bring together the right players who, while they all have their specific roles, must cooperate to ensure they deliver our tactical and strategic ambitions.”
To sign up for the Green Heat event, which is to be held on the 22nd of March at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Glasgow Central, follow the link below to get your free ticket.
For additional information about the event, the Green Heat website can be found here.