Borders College

College’s winning heat system enjoys runaway success

Only weeks on from Borders College being named Best Newcomer at the prestigious Green Gown Awards, its innovative heating project has also been named Best Innovation Award at the Scottish Green Energy Awards, held at the EICC in Edinburgh on Thursday 30 November 2017.

Pete Smith and Robert Hewitt pictured at the Green Gown Awards 2017

Pictured (left to right) at the Green Gown Awards 2017: Robert Hewitt (Borders College), Russ Burton (SHARC Energy Systems), Donald MacBrayne (Scottish Water Horizons), Ian Dunsmore (Scottish Water Horizons), Laura Bishop (SHARC Energy Systems), Lynn Mueller (SHARC Energy Systems), Joe Short (SHARC Energy Systems), Pete Smith (Borders College - holding award), Nathan Burton (SHARC Energy Systems)

Borders College, one of 113 finalists across 15 categories at the Green Gown Awards and one of 40 finalists across 11 categories at the Scottish Green Energy Awards, has won these accolades in recognition of its innovative waste water heating project (in partnership with SHARC Energy and Scottish Water Horizons).

We heard from Facilities Manager Robert Hewitt about the work behind the winning initiative and where the College plans to take its heat recovery project from here.

The first of its kind in the UK, the project is not only considered the benchmark for innovative practice in this field within UK Further Education institutions, but it has also attracted significant interest from other organisations, paving the way for other Scottish colleges and universities to install similar systems.

Backed by investment from Equitix and the UK Green Investment Bank, the SHARC heat recovery system intercepts waste water from the adjacent town sewer line operated by Scottish Water.  The technology extracts the natural warmth contained within this water and transfers the heat to the clean side of the heating system via a heat exchange mechanism. The recovered heat is then amplified via heat pumps to generate the appropriate temperatures for use in buildings. 

The heat produced is being sold to the College by SHARC Energy under a 20-year purchase agreement which sees the College pay a fixed rate.  When compared to predicted rising fuel prices across the same period, this agreement is expected to help Borders College achieve annual incremental savings, totalling a projected overall saving of over 4,000 tonnes of CO2 by 2035. So not only is the heating system innovative, it is efficient, sustainable and helping to lower the College’s carbon emissions. 

The College’s system is currently performing well, with the efficiency of the heat pumps scoring higher than average. Robert explains that the ongoing performance of the system must be taken into consideration when making further future projections:

“In its first year of operation, the SHARC system successfully generated a saving of 40% in gas consumption for the heating of the Scottish Borders Campus.  We expect this saving to double in the second year to provide approximately 95% of the heat requirements of the Scottish Borders Campus, ultimately saving around 218 tonnes of CO2 every year thereafter.”

Scottish Green Energy Award for Best Innovation, 2017Pete Smith (Vice Principal Finance and Resources) and Robert, both of whom were heavily involved in the SHARC project from the outset, collected both awards on behalf of Borders College.  Speaking of the two separate awards, Pete said:

“Borders College is delighted that this innovative project is gaining recognition nationally, first winning a Green Gowns Award and now also winning this Green Energy Award.  It really is testament to the entire team that the project has been such a success and shows what a true spirit of partnership working can achieve.”

Following on from these fantastic successes, Pete and Robert are now working closely with SHARC Energy on phase 2 of the project, which is still under development but will include investigations into how to further improve efficiencies.  Methods currently being evaluated are; the provision of a cleaner electricity supply to run the heat pumps integral to the system (including Solar PV); and how to deliver heating more efficiently within the campus (for example by installing high efficiency radiators).

If you are interested in finding out more detail on the SHARC project at Borders College you can visit YouTube to watch the finalists’ video for the Green Gown Awards.

Published: Thu 7th Dec, 2017