Solar PV panels to supply electricity of the Glasgow heating and cooling grids

Solar PV panels to supply electricity of the Glasgow heating and cooling grids

We met Martin McKay, who, as the Executive Director of Regeneration of Clyde Gateway in Scotland, leads Clyde Gateway's Green Regeneration Innovation District including the District Heating and Cooling networks as it drives to Net Zero. He tells us more about the application of the 2nd Interreg NWE capitalisation on this 5th generation heating and cooling grid (5GDHC), which is one of D2Grids project pilot sites. The capitalisation call aims to explore deeper synergies between local, renewable electricity production and 5GDHC grids. 

Can you tell us more about why Glasgow and Magenta Business Park applied to the D2Grids project?

Glasgow and Clyde Gateway, as a green regeneration and innovation district, are advocates of district heating systems. We feel that, for modern commercial development, having systems that can offer district heating and cooling in the way 5GDHC (5th generation district heating and cooling) can do it, is very advantageous.

We also wanted to be able to provide low carbon energy but at the same time also have technologies that we feel will be attractive to customers and to potential occupants of the buildings.

What has been achieved and is still to be done on this 5GDHC grid?

We are working on a very innovative project, and we’ve been working with our European partners and others to deliver this exciting concept.

Our partners, Scottish Water Horizons from where we will source the heat for the network, have taken some really good steps in delivering the heat pump and the extraction systems into the wastewater treatment works.

We’ve delivered the heat pump as part of that and that will pass through an energy center which has already been built. We’re just about to move on to the very exciting phase of the project, which is to deliver the pipework from the energy center to Magenta business park, and that will include passing the heat pipes over the bridge which has already been designed for that purpose.

Which buildings have already benefited from it and which will benefit soon ?

The first building that will benefit soon is what we call “Red Tree Magenta”, a collaborative openspace. That will be the first building connected to the system and it will be providing heat.

We plan to connect future buildings to the system and to do that, we will be constructing a small substation on which we will deploy the heat pumps, ready and available.

D2Grids project has been extended to strengthen synergies between renewable energies and innovative DHC. Why Clyde Gateway and Glasgow City decided to be part of it?

I think at high level, Scotland, as a country, has very significant targets in achieving carbon reduction. For the city of Glasgow, it’s about taking significant steps towards delivering net zero. While there are a range of measures that our green regeneration and innovation district adopts on our journey to net zero, having district heating and cooling systems is part of that.

The market in Scotland is not quite as well developed for heating district heating systems as it is perhaps in other countries, so we were very keen to be able to deliver a demonstrator onto the site that can show potential occupants what can be delivered, but also, show the wider community in Scotland what can be achieved with those systems.

How will these solar PV panels be implemented?

In terms of the solar PV, we’re very excited about what we are going to do. It is an important component of the project because it helps us to reduce the electrical load associated with the heat pumps, so we can locally generate electricity as part of the overall network. In the initial stages of the project, what we are going to deliver is a ground mounted solar array. That will take a very significant area within the development, and it will give a very clear indication to people visiting the site of what we are delivering.

So those solar panels will then help provide locally generated electricity, we will also have battery storage as part of that. Then, as the master plan develops out across the site and we deliver for the buildings, we will then relocate the solar panels from the ground to the individual buildings, and it means that what we are doing in the very early stages of the project is really future-proofing the overall concept.

Let’s talk about governance. How were the consumers involved in this project?

This will be our second heat network; our first heat network is a high temperature network not an ambient temperature network. Clyde Gateway as a company, we will affectively operate the network and we will sell both heat and cooling to the consumer. The benefit to the consumer is that we can provide that heating and cooling at a cost that is very advantageous in comparison to the wider market, and for Clyde Gateway, we then get to retain the profit that might be recovered from those initial developments, and we can then potentially look to invest into the further development of the network.

There were many beneficiaries in this project, and I think that when we started the project, the energy market was in a very different place than it is now. Even though, I don’t think we could’ve foreseen what has been happening in the energy market for the last 12 months or so, what it does is emphasize how having a different range of technologies deployed can give people resilience in term of the heating and cooling demands.

Is there a plan for the implementation of solar PV?

Yes, there is a plan. That’s covered in the infrastructure development. We have plans for that in the initial stages and we will plan for it as we develop our individual buildings and that will be covered under the individual consents for each of the developments.

Is this pilot site inspirational for other potential developers? What are the key messages you want to convey?

Firstly, the point about being inspirational is part of the wider workstreams that we have for the D2Grids project by rolling-out 5GDHC. Beyond being one of the D2Grids pilot sites,  events and seminars are organised to do so. My colleague Lisa has been involved in those sessions as we’ve brought together partners which called us to hear about the fact that this technology may be developed further, so it’s inspirational in that way.

The key messages for us are about developing a network where we are lowering temperature and increasing efficiency. That’s the kind of key message we want to be able to deliver. We also wanted people to deliver a message that it is about using local energy sources for local energy demand, and then building resilience occupants.

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