Scotland unveils winners of £40m low-carbon innovation fund

A string of pioneering district heat networks and a battery storage project are among the biggest winners in a £43m fund announced by the Scottish Government in an effort to boost low-carbon infrastructure across the country.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced in Glasgow this morning (10 May) that the Low Carbon Infrastructure Programme (LCITP) will match the funding of 13 projects at the “forefront of the low-carbon and renewable innovation”. Sturgeon said the investment would boost the Scottish economy through energy savings and job creation.

“These projects have great potential to help us tackle climate change, and remain at the forefront of low-carbon and renewable innovation,” she said.

“Scotland has some of the most ambitious emissions reduction targets in the world. Over the past 10 years, our pattern of energy consumption has changed considerably, helping us to meet – and exceed – our 2020 target for reducing energy consumption, six years early.”

Recognising potential

A Grangemouth industrial fermentation facility which processes biological residues will receive £9m, the highest share of the pot funding. Other winning schemes include an energy storage project in Hunterston which aims to prove the commercial viability of lithium-ion batteries, and a number of low-carbon heat networks in Dundee, Stirling, Clydebank and Glenrothes.

The Clyde project will develop the UK’s first water source heat pump for medium temperature district heating to service existing buildings. Business enterprise Star Renewable Energy will deploy the 2.5MW water source heat pump – set to become Britain’s largest inner city 80C heat pump – by September 2018.

Star Renewable Energy boss Dave Pearson said: “The support provided by the Scottish Government through the LCITP has recognised both the technical and commercial potential of our project in Glasgow’s Gorbals.

“The programme is providing excellent support in placing a high temperature river heat pump – the largest in the UK – at the Clyde to supply clean, low-carbon heat to buildings in the Gorbals, helping us to collectively work to significantly reduce CO2 emissions in Scotland.

“This project sends a message to everyone that heatpumps work and deliver now what we need for 2035 – no need to take half step and change later.”

Stretching targets

Details of the £43 fund were first announced in Scotland’s recently published draft Energy Strategy, which includes a target to deliver 50% of Scotland’s energy needs from renewable sources by 2030. The Scottish Government’s Climate Change Plan contains proposals to achieve a 66% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2032, after the country surpassed its 2020 targets six years early.

The ambition will require a drastic upheaval of the proportion of renewable sources in Scotland’s energy consumption of the heat and transport sectors, which fall well short of the new target and currently stand at 6% and 4% respectively. Today’s development has been welcomed by green campaigners, who view the fund as a starting place to help realise Scotland’s transition to a low-carbon economy.

“Renewable energy is already bringing economic and environmental benefits to Scotland,” Scottish Renewables policy manager Stephanie Clark said.

“It is particularly pleasing to see renewable heat technologies being provided with support. With already-stretching targets – and an ambition to do much more – it is crucial that we work harder to cut the amount of carbon emitted by our demand for heat, which makes up more than half of the energy we use in Scotland.”

These views were echoed by WWF acting director Dr Sam Gardiner, who said the projects are a “clear signal” of the economic opportunities the transition to a zero-carbon future offers Scotland.

“It’s great to see so many low-carbon infrastructure projects receiving funding,” Dr Gardiner said. “Catalyst funding such as this has an important role to play in trialling and proving new infrastructure, the important next step is for Scotland energy strategy to support their wider deployment and ensure we capture the full economic, social and health benefits that a zero-carbon society offers. “

George Ogleby

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