CLYDEBANK'S pioneering green heat energy system has been officially opened as Scotland gears up to host the COP26 climate change conference.

The district heating system at Queens Quay – now officially known as the West Dunbartonshire Energy Centre – is home to the first large-scale heat pump of its kind in Scotland, transforming the way heat is provided to homes, businesses and public buildings.

When fully operational, the £20 million system, built for West Dunbartonshire Council (WDC), will see a reduction of around 2,000 tonnes of carbon from the environment each year compared to previous levels.

Last week it won a prize in the European Heat Pump Awards in teh Heat Pump City of the Year category.

Councillor Iain McLaren, WDC's convener of infrastructure, regeneration and economic development, said: “I am extremely proud to officially open the West Dunbartonshire Energy Centre.

"This ambitious project has been many years in the making and it’s a pleasure to see the system up and running, providing low-carbon heat energy to so many buildings already, and with the capability of expansion throughout Clydebank."

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The centre, with five kilometres – or more than three miles – of underground pipework – was completed last December.

In the first phase of the project, heat is being supplied to the WDC offices at Aurora House, as well as to the Titan Enterprise Centre, Clydebank Leisure Centre and the new Queens Quay House care home at the site.

Pipe work is also in place to supply the forthcoming Clydebank Health Centre, West College Scotland, more 140 flats and retail units that have already been built, and all the other homes that are planned for the site – as well as to Clydebank Library and Clydebank Town Hall.

The low carbon system has been designed on a modular basis to enable future expansion beyond Queens Quay, with scope to heat the Golden Jubilee Hospital, Clyde Shopping Centre and into the town centre.

The council also says the system will see people living in more than 1,000 homes due to be built on the site enjoy the benefits of lower bills because the system needs far less upkeep than a traditional gas boiler.

West Dunbartonshire Energy LLP, an energy company run by WDC, has been established to oversee and direct the day to day running of the network.

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Clydebank councillor Danny Lennie, a member of the energy company's board, said: “This fantastic system is already heating so many public buildings from the leisure centre to the care home, with the potential to expand to the Golden Jubilee and beyond.

“It makes me so proud that as a council we are showing our commitment to our net zero mission, especially because we are using our shipbuilding heritage and the Clyde – our most famous resource – to do so.

“As well as taking these steps to tackle the climate emergency, we are also addressing fuel poverty for our communities and I’m sure Clydebank will see the benefits of the system for years to come.”

The project received £6.1 million in Scottish Government funding through the European Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition programme.

The energy centre, with its distinctive 30-metre chimney, houses all the control equipment for the system, as well as back-up gas boilers, pressurisation units and distribution pumps.

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Two 2.65-megawatt (MW) water source heat pumps convert heat in the water of the River Clyde into hot water at a temperature of 75 degrees Centigrade, while two 7MW gas boilers provide back-up and top-up heat at peak times when the pumps are operating at capacity.

The Council received Scottish Government funding £6.1million towards the total cost of the system through the European funded Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition programme .

The Energy Centre, which has a distinctive 30m chimney, will house the building control and management system to operate and monitor operations, all controlled remotely, as well as back –up gas boilers, pressurisation units and distribution pumps.

The primary heat source is two no. 2.65MW Water Source Heat Pumps (WSHPs) that convert heat held within the water of the River Clyde into hot water at a temperature of 75 degrees centigrade, and two 7MW gas boilers which provide back up and top up heat at peak times when the pumps are operating at capacity.

The building was designed by Cooper Cromar Architects and built by Muir Construction with the heat producing plant designed and installed by Vital Energi.

The heat pumps were manufactured by Glasgow-based Star Refrigeration Ltd.

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