Glasgow Housing Association: large scale air source heat pump
Project lead: Glasgow Housing Association
Area: Glasgow
Main technology: Air source heat pump
Local Energy Challenge Fund grant awarded: £2,500,000 

Project aims and objectives

Designed by Glasgow Housing Association (GHA), WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff and Scottish Gas, this project aimed to develop and implement an industrial scale low carbon heating system for residents living in social housing in Glasgow.

The project focused on Hillfoot Drive, an area of social housing in the city centre. Project consultants WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff suggested that residents’ electric storage heating systems, which were inefficient and expensive to run, were replaced with a low carbon district heating system. The system would be powered by an innovative industrial-scale air source heat pump by Star Refrigeration and never before seen on a project of this scale in the UK.

At the time, air source heat pumps had generally been around 60kW in size, so this project was innovative in its sheer scale. Delivering district heating in social housing is not a new concept, but this technology provided an opportunity to reduce costs and carbon emissions.

Outcomes and achievements

The industrial scale 400kW low carbon district heating solution, which is eight metres long and hits temperatures over 60°C, was successfully installed and now provides low cost heat for residents. This was a new development for air source heat pumps and demonstrates the viability of such a scheme in urban areas.

Although the estate is very large, the linear layout of the eight apartment blocks leant itself well to a traditional district heating installation with a single energy centre to generate heat for users. Heat is now transferred from the energy centre down a central flow and return spine pipe, with individual branches coming off to provide heat to each block.

The Hillpark Drive installation is an example of how to make social housing more energy efficient. The district heating system will save customers money and alleviate fuel poverty, and it will also bring environmental benefits through reduced carbon emissions. Strong community engagement was a focus for the project, as Glasgow Housing Association worked closely with residents to explore the impact of the scheme.

In total, 313 connected properties were connected to the new scheme with approximately £200,000 of energy cost savings per year for consumers by switching to district heating. The project also ensured around 19,000 tonnes of carbon was offset.

The project was officially opened in May 2019 and won Fuel Poverty Alleviation Project of the Year at the AGSM awards.