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Cash for district heating to expand

THE popular Lerwick district heating scheme is to expand further this year thanks to a government grant that will trigger a million pound investment by Shetland Charitable Trust.

Low Carbon Shetland is to receive £800,000 from the European Rural Development Fund to install a huge hot water tank that will supply more energy into the expanding scheme.

The tank will also help stabilise the islands’ electricity grid to allow more renewable power to be generated in the isles.

The grant will allow more than 300 new customers to be connected to the heating scheme, including 30 or so businesses.

A hot water tank will store up to 150 megawatt hours of energy and a pumping station will allow residents in the Staney Hill area to be connected to the scheme.

The charitable trust has already agreed to invest around £1.2 million into the expansion, pending this 40 percent grant towards the £2 million project.

The district heating scheme is powered by the waste to energy plant at Lerwick’s Greenhead. This will be supplemented by three 2.3 megawatt turbines, to be operated by Scottish & Southern Energy, whose energy will be stored in the hot water tank.

Shetland Heat Energy and Power Ltd (SHEAP) manager Neville Martin said on Tuesday the scheme was innovative and ground breaking in that it would allow the district heating scheme to expand, while helping the nearby power station to deal with growing supply of renewable energy from wind.

“One of the short comings of wind power is that it is very erratic and you need storage to cover for periods when there isn’t any wind. This scheme goes some of the way to addressing that,” Mr Martin said.

“The reason why we are doing this here in Shetland is, of course, because we have a district heating scheme. That was the catalyst that got us thinking, which means the district heating scheme now also benefits other parts of Shetland.”

The Scottish government also announced a £1.3 million European grant towards increased energy efficiency in social housing across the isles.

This involves a radio linked heating control in storage heaters which would make more efficient use of renewable energy as and when available, and would also help stabilise the Shetland grid, which is not connected to the national grid.