A ground-breaking new system of recycling surplus heat from SSEN’s Lerwick Power Station to supplement the existing supply to Lerwick’s homes and businesses throughout the year has been launched by Shetland Heat Energy and Power (SHEAP).

The highly efficient and environmentally sound system, one of the first of its kind in the UK, has been designed using Danish district heating expertise and delivered under a tight schedule by local contractors.

As part of its normal day-to-day operations, Lerwick Power Station produces heat which would otherwise be safely dissipate into the sea; under this new system, that heat will instead be supplied to SHEAP and help it cope with peaks in demand during the winter months. 

Executive director of Shetland Heat Energy and Power, Derek Leask, said: “We are delighted to see this ground-breaking project reach fruition. As far as we are aware, there is no other district heating company in the UK that takes industrial waste heat on this scale from elsewhere and recycles it into a network that supplies more than 1200 customers.

“For 20 years we have been buying generated heat from the island’s Energy Recovery Plant, which involves burning local non-recyclable refuse from Shetland and Orkney. The incinerator here, which is owned by Shetland Islands Council, generates heat in the form of hot water, and this is then circulated through an underground network of pipes, running through the main streets of Lerwick. This network is over 40 km in total length and consists of a flow and return main line with connection supply pipes to each individual customer.  

“For the larger part of the year, the town’s heating requirement is adequately met by the energy recovery plant. However, we do hit a peak period in the winter when demand outweighs supply. By taking the surplus heat from Lerwick Power Station through this new initiative, we can successfully balance supply and demand – and can increase the environmental credentials of the system.”

The waste heat initiative comes on the back of an upgrade to the incinerator last year and, the combined effect of this upgrade and the new waste heat project, virtually eliminates the supplementary ten per cent of oil burn which was required to meet peak demand during the winter months, saving around 600,000 litres of oil over the course of the year. The resulting carbon saving achieved is equivalent to planting 64,000 trees per year.

In response to the announcement Patrick Harvie Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings said:

“The Scottish Government welcomed the opportunity to support Shetland Heat Energy and Power to transform their supply of heat through the Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme.

“Where surplus heat is available, as here in Lerwick, it provides an opportunity to supply a local heat network, heating local homes and businesses. Local heat networks will form a much larger part of our energy future so I look forward to getting updates on the progress.”

Darren Hitchin, SSEN’s Embedded Generation Manager at Lerwick Power Station, said: “The technology in our new, recently installed, engine has presented us with this opportunity to work with SHEAP, and this new initiative is a great way for our company to make a tangible, measurable difference in the Shetland community. 

“By recycling this surplus heat into Lerwick’s community heating network, the new system will help with peak demand over the winter months and, at the same time, it lowers our own carbon footprint, consistent with our target to reduce our emissions in line with 1.5 degree science-based targets.”

“Looking forward, when Shetland is connected to the GB transmission network in 2024, we will work together with the team at Lerwick Power Station to co-ordinate our incinerator shut-downs with days when the standby engine is running. This will mean that we can maximise the waste heat from this resource.”

SHEAP is owned by Shetland Charitable Trust. Derek Leask concluded: “It’s thanks to the Trust’s continued support that we have been able to take these very significant projects forward to a position where SHEAP now supplies roughly a quarter of all the annual energy used for heating and hot water in Shetland.”

For more information please contact:

Isabel Johnson.

The Lerwick Power Station waste heat capture project was designed by Danish district heating consultants and delivered by local contractors:

  • Cowi, Denmark, designed the connection.
  • Ocean Kinetics installed the pipework and carried out all associated welding and fabrication work for SSEN. 
  • Civils works for SSEN was carried out by EMN Plant.  
  • Civils works for SHEAP was carried out by S. Malcolmson Plant Ltd.
  • Enertec delivered the electrical services for SHEAP  

Shetland Heat Energy and Power is owned by Shetland Charitable Trust

SHEAP supplies around 50,000 mw/hrs to the community each year. This is around a quarter of all the energy used for heating and hot water in Shetland.

The Scottish Government has supported the design work for both projects, under the Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme.

Posted on 23rd March 2022

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