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Renewable Heating Systems Piloted

Issued: 17 Jul 2007

The Highland Council has installed eight ground source heat pumps in eight of its properties as part of pilot project to evaluate the suitability of renewable energy technologies in tackling fuel poverty.

The pilot, which is being managed by the Energy Saving Trust on behalf of the Scottish Executive, is being run across Scotland and will eventually involve participation by local authorities, housing associations and private householders.

Ground source heat pumps (GSHP) extract solar heat stored in the ground and release the heat at a higher temperature in the house usually through underfloor heating or a radiator circuit. The heat is extracted from the ground using a 'collection loop' which is lengths of plastic pipe buried in a borehole or trench. The pipe is filled with an antifreeze mixture which circulates through the pipe absorbing heat from the ground.

This type of heating system has been installed in Highland Council properties under the pilot in Nigg, Fearn, Avoch, Rogart, Portree and Kyle none of which has access to the mains gas network and therefore they have limited heating system choices.

Chairman of the Housing and Social Work Committee, Councillor Margaret Davidson said: "Ground source heat pumps offer an environmentally-friendly alternative to other heating systems such as coal and oil central heating. In all of these trial properties we have also ensured that there is sufficient loft and cavity wall insulation installed to reduce heat loss. Initial reactions from our tenants who have had the GSHPs installed since March has been very good."

Comments from tenants have included - "I'm delighted with it, the pump is not noisy at all, it doesn't disturb us and everything is just fine." and "Absolutely fantastic and its lovely coming into a warm house - I can't fault it so far."

Overall the pilot will be evaluating ground and air source heat pumps and wood-pellet boilers as these technologies provide both heat and hot water in the home and can replace an existing central heating system. The new installations will be comprehensively monitored until March 2008 to assess their impact on the comfort of the home and the impact on tenants fuel bills. The results from this monitoring will help the Scottish Executive in determining what future role renewable technologies can play in helping meet the 2016 target to eradicate fuel poverty.

Eddie Boyd, The Highland Council Senior Engineer said: "Installation of these GSHPs will greatly assist the Council in its own evaluations of alternative heating systems for the council housing stock with the aim of improving the standard and efficiency of heating for tenants and reducing the number of those suffering fuel poverty."

© 2010 Highland Public Services Partnership.
Project part-financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund) within the INTERREG IIIB Northern Periphery Programme