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Can Urban Greenspaces Act as Low Carbon Boilers?

2 September 2020

Greenspace Scotland launches a new research project, transforming urban landscapes to support a low carbon future.

A new research project launched this week by greenspace scotland will explore how we can transform our urban landscapes to support a low carbon future. Green Heat in Greenspaces (GHiGs) builds on greenspace scotland’s ground-breaking ParkPower project bringing 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.

John Maslen, greenspace scotland’s ParkPower programme manager said:

“To have any chance of achieving our world-leading decarbonisation ambitions Scotland needs to surge up the low carbon heat league table of European nations to escape its current position in the relegation zone. Climate scientists and the Scottish Government appear to be on the same page - heat needs a radical overhaul. The big unanswered question is “how?” We believe that generating heat from urban greenspace using heat pumps and supplying this to buildings through a network of pipes has a key part to play in any solution.”

The use of heat pumps to take heat from the ground, from water sources or from the air is a well-worn ‘pathway’ in countries like Sweden and Austria where installations are widespread. One key challenge facing both heat pumps and other heat projects that, to a large extent, differentiates them from electricity projects, is the cost of transport; it is expensive to transport heat over long distances. The viability of heat schemes is optimised by generating heat in close proximity to where it is needed. Heat demand is, of course, highest within our urban centres. Unfortunately, space in these locations is at a premium. While fossil fuel based heating solutions have tended to require minimal space, their green counterparts are generally more space hungry. We need to find open space in our towns and cities that could be used for new low carbon heat solutions.

The new research project launched this week aims to address this issue head-on. Green Heat in Greenspaces or “GHiGs” will explore how areas of greenspace across Scotland can contribute to transforming the urban landscape of the future to one based on low carbon heat. This is the first time Ordnance Survey’s most detailed mapping of urban greenspaces has been used to assess the heat potential of specific sites. Already this data has highlighted the true scale of the opportunity: far from being dominated by grey space, analysis shows our cities to be largely green, with coverage at over 60% in cities like Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

The project is led by greenspace scotland as part of its ongoing ParkPower programme and will be supported by low carbon energy specialists Ramboll.

John Maslen, ParkPower Project Manager, greenspace scotland M: 07503 688 861 |

Read the original press release here or visit the greenspace website.

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