Midlothian Council’s Joint Venture with Swedish energy firm Vattenfall

Tuesday February 11th 2020


The proposed new town centre at Shawfair

Written by Midlothian View Reporter,Luke Jackson

Midlothian Council, which recently declared a Climate Emergency, has appointed Vattenfall, the leading Swedish state owned energy company as preferred bidder to become its energy partner.

Vattenfall will work with the council to set up an innovative new Energy Services Company (ESCo). This partnership, which will be a 50/50 joint venture, will focus on delivering a wide range of energy projects across the area.

The first project will be a fourth generation, innovative low carbon district heating network to the new Shawfair town in the north of the council area on the outskirts of Edinburgh. The network will benefit from heat supplied by FCC Environment, which operates the councils’ (Edinburgh and Midlothian) state of the art energy from waste facility (EfW) near Millerhill. The EfW is fuelled by residual waste collected by the local councils of Midlothian, Edinburgh and East Lothian. This first project is expected to save over 2,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, the equivalent of taking 1,200 petrol/diesel cars off the road.

In addition to setting up a long term ESCo, Midlothian Council aims to sign a 40 year agreement with the ESCo to supply heat to the new public buildings to be built at the new Shawfair town. The new company will negotiate final contracts with its main initial partners, FCC Environment and Shawfair LLP. FCC will supply the low carbon heat and Shawfair LLP will facilitate the connections to new domestic and commercial developments in the town.

This first £20m project will benefit from financial support of up to £7.3m from the Scottish Government’s Low Carbon Infrastructure Transformation Project, which is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund. The council also benefits from a close working relationship on the project from Scottish Futures Trust.

Future projects to be undertaken by the ESCo will include the potential expansion of the district heating network into areas of East Lothian and Edinburgh, creating a network similar in scale to those delivered in major cities throughout Europe, such as Amsterdam. The network will bring the latest in heat network technology to Scotland, built as a low temperature network.

Low temperature heat networks bring with them many benefits – including lower costs, maintenance, and an ability to adapt to take heat from many sources of waste heat, e.g. sewage works and data centres. Working with the Coal Authority, the potential for utilising the former Monktonhall Colliery for heat storage and supply will also be investigated.

Beyond district heating projects the ESCo may be asked to consider Solar PV, Electric Vehicle charging and direct wire electricity supplies to commercial properties. Over the lifetime of the ESCo projects to the total value of over £100m are anticipated

Midlothian Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Councillor Russell Imrie said : “We’re very excited to be working with Vattenfall to set up an energy services company for innovative new projects benefitting local residents and businesses in the area and setting us well on our way to a carbon neutral future. Working closely on our first project with Shawfair LLP, the local developer, and FCC Environment, our existing Zero Waste Contractor, we look forward to delivering another major pathfinding project for Scotland. ”

Tuomo Hattaka, Senior Vice President of Vattenfall Heat said, “We’re delighted to have been selected by Midlothian Council for this long term energy partnership that puts low carbon, fossil free living front and centre of its ambition. Any organisation or company serious about reaching net zero has low carbon heating at the top of its to do list, and this energy partnership is no different.”

Mike Reynolds, Managing Director of Vattenfall Heat UK adds: “Midlothian has an abundance of local, low carbon heat potential which means that we can begin the partnership’s work with the installation of a state-of-the-art heat network that will deliver affordable, low carbon heating to local homes at the Shawfair development.”

Ed Monaghan, a director of Shawfair LLP, said: “This is a welcome step forward in our plans to create a sustainable new town. A District Heating system for Shawfair’s town centre, powered by surplus, zero-carbon heat from the adjacent energy-from-waste facility means that homes, business and community buildings in the centre will reap the benefit of lower-cost energy bills. We look forward to working with Vattenfall together with Midlothian Council and SEPA to bring to life our collective ambitions set out in our Sustainable Growth Agreement.”

Paul Taylor, Group Chief Executive of FCC Environment said: “This news is a hugely positive step enabling, as it will, the use of the heat that the combustion process creates improving yet further the efficiency of the plant. Feeding into the planned district heating network on the plant’s doorstep will allow, not just us at FCC Environment, but all parties involved to realise a vision of the future place for Energy from Waste facilities such as Millerhill across the UK.”

The details of agreements are now being worked up with a view to signing the contract by the middle of this year.

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