West Dunbartonshire Council's story
Not only has its development been a key element in the transformation of the former John Brown’s Shipyard from an industrial landscape into a vibrant and diverse community, but it also sets out the Council’s commitment to transition towards a net zero future.
Clydebank’s shipbuilding heritage is world-renowned, with many famous liners, battleships and other vessels created on the Clyde waterfront. So, it is fitting that we are continuing that legacy by putting our most famous resource to good use, to protect the planet for future generations.
The ground-breaking project features Scotland’s largest Water Source Heat Pump installation to date, taking water from the nearby River Clyde and using it to generate heat which is then distributed to customers through an underground district heating pipe network. The Council established a wholly public owned energy company West ‘Dunbartonshire Energy LLP’ to oversee the strategic development of the district heating network.
The ambitious £20million project, which was supported with £6.1m funding from the Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme (LCITP) was completed in December 2020 with the initial phase providing heat to Council offices at Aurora House, the Titan Enterprise Centre, Clydebank Leisure Centre and the new care home at the site, Queens Quay House. The partners involved in this programme are West Dunbartonshire Council (Owner of the Energy Service Company (ESCo)), Vital Energi and Star Refrigeration; including support from Scottish Government.
The main heat supply pipes (Trunk main) have been laid across the entire length of the Queens Quay site and have been designed with future extension in mind. Points of connection are also in place ready to supply a new NHS Health Centre, over 140 flats with ancillary retail units, as well as Clydebank Library and Clydebank Town Hall. Future connection of West College Clydebank campus and other commercial uses to be delivered are under active consideration.
The introduction of the network will make a major contribution towards West Dunbartonshire Council's climate change targets, as well as allowing residents of more than 1,000 proposed new homes due to be built on the site to enjoy reliable low carbon heating. The district heat network provides an alternative to individual gas boilers at a similar or lower cost.
The low carbon system has been designed to enable future expansion beyond Queens Quay, with scope to heat the Golden Jubilee Hospital, and other areas where high heat demand will justify further extension. This will include areas where we want to tackle fuel poverty, where the Council can provide a cheaper and greener alternative to fossil fuel heating.
Useful learnings from West Dunbartonshire Council
Carry out a District Heating Network (DHN) feasibility study - Understand where you want to locate the heat network, particularly on heat demand in the selected area. Understand and gather data, information and lessons learned from existing heat network projects - for example, the Star Renewables project in Drammen, Norway, inspired our approach having proof of concept in a water source solution. This was further supported by encouragement from the Danish District Heating Board mentoring programme. Identify and involve internal and external stakeholders who will benefit from being connected to the heat network - including staff, the public, private businesses, housing associations, hospitals, etc. Why are you doing it – is it to find an innovative solution to decarbonising heat through renewables, is it to tackle fuel poverty, is it to develop and run an Energy Service Company (ESCo)? Can you pinpoint solutions and help strategy and net zero delivery through Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategies (LHEES)? Get buy-in from management, Councillors, etc.
WDC worked with the Scottish Government Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme (LCITP) team – who provided 50% match funding towards the Low Carbon technology. There were some challenges sourcing the remaining 50% funding from WDC – which was requested from Council. We had detailed business case and feasibility work carried out by consultants on WDC’s behalf - so that we had a much better understanding of current and future costs, changes and detailed energy modelling.
Ensure good communication with all relevant departments and other stakeholders such as the public. Do your planning well and include all relevant parties in a constructive process. When you lack knowledge or experience, collaborate with (international) partners who do have this knowledge and experience. Ensure others understand fully what the objectives of the project are and hope to achieve.