In August 2020 we launched a new research project to explore how we can transform our urban landscapes to support a low carbon future. Green Heat in Greenspaces (GHiGs) is a project within the overall ParkPower programme that builds on previous research. It brings together half of Scotland’s councils together with a wide range of public sector bodies to explore how urban greenspaces can support a Scottish low carbon heat transition.

GHiGs will explore the suitability of many types of urban greenspace across Scotland for use as low carbon heat sources and heat transmission corridors. It will focus primarily on the potential of publicly owned greenspaces to host solutions using heat pump technology and district heat networks based on their physical characteristics and location in relation to heat demand.

Latest project documents

GHiGs project summary Aug20 (PDF)

GHiGs project partner list Aug20 (PDF)

GHiGs project inception meeting 11/08/20 slides (PDF)

GHiGs Meeting 2 15/09/20 slides (PDF)

Press release / Coverage in Project Scotland (Perth & Kinross Council)

The impetus for the project stems from the broad array of public organisations looking to develop their climate action plans and strategies for asset decarbonisation. The decarbonisation of heat for both residential and commercial buildings is a major goal for the Scottish Government and one which, to date, has proved “a hard nut to crack”. Scotland will not meet its 2020 target of meeting 11% of heat demand from low carbon sources – this figure is closer to 6-7%. As a nation it is current positioned in the relegation zone of all EU countries for low carbon heat capacity so there is an urgent need to address this challenge through exploring different low carbon pathways.

To date the contribution that urban open space can make to achieve our low carbon ambitions has been somewhat over-looked. Some excellent examples of heat pump schemes utilising urban open space do exist including at Caird Park in Dundee and Saughton Park in Edinburgh. The new Biomes Project at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh will be heated by heat pumps from neighbouring greenspace while the recently operational Stirling District Heat Network uses greenspace along the River Forth to route its underground pipes. The V&A Museum in Dundee is heated by 30 boreholes each 200m in depth while 800 ground loops have been incorporated into the foundations of the new Falkirk College. However there remain significant gaps to understanding the true capacity of utilising our urban open space for renewable heat.  At the same time we have seen rising interest of many public organisations that own and/or control large public land portfolios in understanding the extent to which their estate can help them achieve their net zero targets.

ParkPower research to date has considered a wide range of appropriate green energy technologies for greenspace sites.  By far the most exciting opportunity that has emerged from this research is the potential of greenspaces to act as generators and transporters of low carbon heat.  The technologies that underpin this include the application of dedicated and shared loop heat pump systems using ground, water and air sources together with district heat networks to transfer heat to points of demand. Urban greenspace (and blue space) is highly suited to these solutions given its accessibility to nearby points of high heat demand.

Working with an industry-leading technical partner in strategic heat masterplanning, Ramboll, the GHiGs project will base their analysis on the Ordnance Survey’s most detailed mapping of urban greenspaces - OS Mastermap Greenspace. Already this data has highlighted the true scale of the opportunity: far from being dominated by grey space, our cities are in fact largely green, with coverage at over 60% in cities like Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh. The project will deliver a summary assessment of potential for Scotland.  It will also provide custom reports to its core partners highlighting the most promising opportunities in their territory alongside supporting datasets to enable further in-house analysis.

Final deliverables from the project are due in March 2021.  If you would like to know more please contact us at [email protected]

GHiGs is focused largely on the low carbon heat pathway of electrification whether through more locally dispersed solutions or those based on wider District Heat Networks. It is not looking at the potential to utilise hydrogen for low carbon heating - an alternative pathway. Based on the view of heating experts we've spoken to, hydrogen has a key role in meeting the needs of 'hard to reach' sectors like freight transport and aviation.  It's role to act as a medium to generate heat is currently highly uncertain - this is summarised in a recent independent report as part of the EU Shifft Project by experts at the University of Exeter.

Top banner image: supplied courtesy of Kensa Group - multiple high rise flats in Sunderland heated with ground source heat pumps using surrounding greenspace