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Private properties to be offered smart heating

Dimplex Quantum storage heater have been trialled successfully in six Lerwick properties

PRIVATE property owners will soon be given the chance to take advantage of cheap heating as part of the world leading Northern Isles New Energy Solutions (NINES) energy project in Shetland after the local authority pulled out.

This week Shetland Islands Council announced they had withdrawn from a £3.2 million scheme to provide cheap storage heating to 520 council homes.

Development director Neil Grant said the council could not justify the extra expenditure at a time when severe cuts to SIC budgets are being sought.

Hjaltland Housing Association intend to continue with their plans to install Dimplex Quantum heaters into 230 homes, after trials in six properties demonstrated energy savings of up to 15 per cent.

Scottish & Southern Energy have been developing the NINES “smart grid” project to manage the local electricity grid so that an extra 3.5 megwatts of renewable energy can be introduced.

The plan, worth £47 million in its entirety, involves installing new Dimplex Quantum heaters, hot water tanks, a 1 megawatt battery and wind turbines north of Lerwick.

The European Regional Development Fund had offered £1.3 million grant funding towards the project, but after the SIC discovered their contribution would be greater than the £630,000 they had budgeted for, it decided to pull out.

Grant added that the project would have involved replacing storage heaters that did not need to be replaced.

As a result the council has lost its two thirds share of the ERDF funding, leaving Hjaltland trying to retrieve their third from Europe. They have said they will go ahead with new storage heaters even if the money is not forthcoming.

Grant said the SIC was still committed to working with SSE on other elements of the NINES project.

SSE project director Stewart Reid said good progress on NINES was still being made with Hjaltland, the Lerwick district heating scheme and renewables developers.

“NINES remains on course to allow several megawatts of new renewable energy generation to connect to the grid in 2013 and provide lower cost heating options on the island,” he said.

SSE hope to announce how private householders can participate in the scheme within the next four months.

Hjaltland chief executive Bryan Leask said the trial run by Strathclyde University into the smart heating systems had been carried out in a variety of new and old, large and small properties.

“Across the board the average has been a 12 to 15 per cent improvement in terms of consumption of electricity,” he said.

The trials had all taken place in Lerwick because they could install a better wi-fi link to Lerwick power station where data about each property’s heating patterns could be collated.

The Hjaltland homes that will have the new storage heaters are ones that are not connected to the district heating scheme or use heat pumps.

However for the NINES strategy to work properly, the properties will also require new hot water tanks which can store the extra electricity during the summer months when people switch their heaters off.

NINES development officer Louise Thomason will be addressing the Low Carbon Network Fund’s annual conference in Cardiff this month about the project.