Published 06 October 2021

A pioneering system taking water from the Clyde to create green heat energy has been officially opened as Scotland gears up to host COP26.

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.

At full build, the system will deliver circa 2000 tonnes of carbon reduction from the environment per year, and is contributing to making Clydebank one of the greenest areas in Scotland.

The £20million project, located within waterside development Queens Quay in the town, was opened as world leaders get set to arrive in Glasgow next month for the United Nations Climate Conference (COP26).

Councillor Iain McLaren, 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.

“As the world turns its eyes to the West of Scotland for COP26, and we work to agree action to try and halt the climate emergency, we are determined to do our part. This system, alongside a number of other steps taken by the Council, will help us achieve our goal to be net zero by 2045 and lead the way in tackling the climate emergency.”

The system will be showcased to delegates at COP26 in an exhibit at the event’s Green Zone in Glasgow Science Centre, highlighting work being undertaken to achieve net zero targets.

The ambitious project to create a state of the art Energy Centre and lay 5km of below-ground pipework at the former John Brown Shipyard was completed last December on behalf of West Dunbartonshire Council.

In the initial phase of switch on, heat is being supplied to Council offices at Aurora House, the Titan Enterprise Centre, Clydebank Leisure Centre and the new care home at the site, Queens Quay House.

Pipe work is also in place to supply the forthcoming Clydebank Health Centre, West College Scotland, over 140 flats and retail units currently on site, all other homes planned for the site as well as 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 introduction of the network will allow residents of more than 1,000 homes due to be built on the site to enjoy lower bills with a system that requires far less upkeep than a gas boiler.

Council-run energy company West Dunbartonshire Energy LLP has been established to oversee and strategically direct the day to day running of the network.

Councillor Daniel Lennie, West Dunbartonshire Energy LLP Board member, 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 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 Energy Centre 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.

It is part of the wider £250million Queens Quay regeneration of the historic site, and when complete, the once-derelict area will be transformed into a vibrant waterside community.

West Dunbartonshire Council is regenerating the land in partnership with site owners Clydeside Regeneration Ltd (CRL) and development partner Dawn Urban Regeneration Ltd.