Top Professor urges Scots to use heat in rivers – or lose it to the sea

Glaswegian know-how helps Norway race ahead in rush for low carbon warmth

A top academic has urged Scots to harness the hidden heat in their rivers using "game changing" heat pump technology – or face being left behind in a technology race with Scandinavia.

Professor Paul Younger, Rankine Chair of Engineering at Glasgow University, encouraged Scotland not to ignore the potential of watercourses and deep mine workings as a source of warmth.

Modern heat pumps use small amounts of electricity to turn cool water from rivers and lakes into hot water. Technology developed in Scotland is already being used to heat 2˚C water from a fjord in Norway to 90˚C.

Speaking before a landmark Scottish Renewables event at Glasgow University, to be held in conjunction with Star Renewable Energy on September 10, Prof Younger said: "As is so often the case, the Norwegians saw the light earlier than us, and heat-pump technology built on the Clyde is now heating the city of Drammen by extracting thermal energy from deep fjord waters.

"Meanwhile the Clyde, Forth, Moray, Tay, Solway – our own ‘fjords', and the source of the word ‘Firth' – flow by, delivering their renewable thermal content to the open ocean unused while heat poverty is such a problem for so many."

Heat pumps – hailed as "game changing" by UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey in March – were first described by William Thomson, the first Lord Kelvin, at Glasgow University in 1852.

Professor Younger added: "It's now time for Scotland to focus its attention on the potential for heat pump technology to deliver low carbon heat at reasonable cost.

"After all, we should be making the most of one thing Scotland will always have in super-abundance: water."

Water from underground mine workings can also be used to feed heat pumps. Professor Younger's research has found that of less than 20 examples of this worldwide, two are in Scotland – one heating homes in Shettleston, Glasgow, and another in Lumphinnans, Fife.

The findings were made public ahead of Scottish Renewables' Harnessing Heat from Rivers event, to be held at Glasgow University on September 10.

The free event will hear from the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Green Investment Bank, Scottish Government and Glasgow company Star Renewable Energy, who built the heat pump in Drammen, Norway.

For more information, or to register, see or call Lisa Fraser on 0141 353 4986.


Nick Sharpe, Media Manager
Scottish Renewables
T: 0141 353 4984
M: 0782 455 3813

Notes to editors
1. This event is supported by Scottish Enterprise.
2. Scottish Renewables is a member organisation dedicated to strengthening business relationships and committed to securing the best possible environment for the growth of renewable energy in Scotland.

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