Waste water heat solution for rural Stirling

Stirling waste water heat
An innovative project to bring heat from waste water treatment to rural communities has begun in Scotland Photo: Stirling Council/Shutterstock

A pioneering study into heat distribution from a water treatment works to rural communities in Stirling has been granted funding from the Scottish Government’s Innovative Local Energy Systems (ILES) initiative.

The first study of its kind in the UK, the project will investigate how waste heat extracted from the Callander waste water treatment works (WwTW) can be incorporated with thermal energy storage and distributed to remote and off-gas grid areas. The scheme could help to combat rural energy and fuel poverty issues, such as a lack of fuel choice and higher energy costs.

Scottish Water Horizons (a subsidiary of Scottish Water) and Stirling Council have been awarded £100,000 to explore the innovative heat solution for rural Stirling, with initial feasibility being carried out in the town of Callander, which would then be scalable and replicable across the area.

The joint application, known as the Callander Local Energy Opportunity (CLEO), is receiving funding from the ILES initiative with the support of the European Regional Development Fund.

Benefits will include energy demand reduction, energy savings, added resilience and security of heat supply, and possible income generation through opportunities for community ownership models.

Scottish Water Horizons is already enabling heat to be extracted from sewer networks to provide an alternative and affordable energy source. Project manager, Mari Davies, said: “Within our sewer network there is massive potential for heat to be harnessed as a renewable energy source. The challenge for us now is how we store this heat and get it to local homes and businesses that need it most.

“Using thermal energy storage in combination with innovative waste water heat extraction technology, we can test the concept in an area that is typical of many rural and remote areas across Scotland.  If successful, there is opportunity for wider roll-out, helping to alleviating fuel poverty, providing local employment and contributing to Scotland’s circular economy.”

Evelyn Tweed from Stirling Council pointed out that higher energy bills can be prohibitive to businesses setting up in rural areas so the funding could help to stimulate regeneration and economic development.

Councillor Tweed said: “Stirling Council has a large rural area, the majority of which show higher levels of fuel poverty than urban areas, due to lack of fuel choice as many are off gas grid. The higher capacity of the waste water treatment works in Callander and size of the population made the region an ideal choice for the pilot scheme.”

ILES aims to help accelerate the development and delivery of low-carbon infrastructure projects in smaller towns and settlements as well as remote, rural and off-gas grid communities.