08 Jun 2021

Communal heating in Aberdeen

In 1999 Aberdeen City Council, which has some 26,500 properties, adopted a comprehensive Affordable Warmth Strategy.

Since then Aberdeen has upgraded a large proportion of their housing stock. The improvements were mainly in heating systems, building fabric and levels of insulation. They have made a positive contribution to achieving local key objectives of affordability, sustainability, ensuring tenants’ safety and reducing carbon dioxide emissions.To achieve its objectives ACC needed to gain a clearer picture of the current condition of it’s 8,100 properties.

A team of consultants; engineers, architects and quantity surveyors, was commissioned to carry out this study. Their final report identified one cluster in the city as the most appropriate for the development of a CHP scheme. This cluster, Stockethill, comprises 288 flats, in 4 multi-storey blocks. The flats had electric storage heating, which had been installed in the 1970’s. 70% of the residents of these dwellings were estimated to be in fuel poverty.

The tenure of these properties was 98% council tenants and 2% owners. To be able to build a CHP for these 4 blocks, a financing scheme was required. Several efforts were conducted to get some funding. Having secured the Community Energy Programme funding, the Stockethill project was able to go ahead. An energy centre was built close to one of the 4 multi-storey blocks. It houses a 210kWe gas fired reciprocating engine CHP unit and 2 x 700kW [thermal] gas fired boilers for peak load and back-up. The heat is distributed to the 4 blocks via pre-insulated underground pipes, which comprise the heat network, with each unit having a new internal distribution system. It is anticipated that 47% of the electricity produced by the CHP unit will be sold to dwellings served by the heat network - with the remainder being sold to other customers. The heating system arrangement for each dwelling is the same as a conventional central heating system, apart from the absence of individual boilers.

Mechanical heat recovery ventilation units were considered but rejected due to the excessive disruption to tenants which would be caused by the need to remove most of the kitchen fittings. Community heating from a central plant can keep maintenance costs down - no individual gas safety certificates need to be produced or servicing carried out; therefore fewer visits are required to individual properties.

December 2003, a supply of heat was delivered to the first property.

Information on this page is retrieved from District Heating Schotland