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« Climate Neutral | Main | "Peak heat", peak nonsense »

Getting into hot water

As part of their aim to become “carbon neutral”  or something equally daft, the University of St Andrews is planning to close the road to Dundee and to the station at Leuchars for several months in the New Year, requiring diversions of at least three extra miles, while they run a water pipe under the road from their new biomass plant four miles away from St Andrews. They intend to generate hot water which will be piped the four miles to heat university buildings and residences in town. The whole "green energy plant"  is projected to cost £25 million pounds, £10 million from taxpayer via the Scottish government. 

Can anyone give some informed opinion on whether this is possible while retaining enough of the heat to make it worthwhile? Presumably Icelandic district heating systems do something like this but what are the insulating materials used?  Geothermal heat will make the whole process cheaper in Iceland than biomass (“fuel sourced from a radius of 50 miles” -until the trees run out) to be used here, as the Icelanders won't have to generate the heat in the first place. My initial thoughts were that the whole University idea is crackpot, but maybe  I am  wrong? TM

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Reader Comments (96)

No doubt the Consulting Engineers who've designed and sized the scheme will have satisfied themselves that the transmission heat losses will be 'acceptable'.

However, whilst the thermal and combustion credentials of the scheme will be lauded, I suspect little will be mentioned about the 24/7 power demands of pushing/pulling the phenomenal mass of water 4 miles from plant room to university buildings. And back again.

Oct 21, 2015 at 9:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

It's crackpot because it's unnecessary.
Stop playing "gesture politics" and get on with real life.
Oh, sorry! It's a university. Real life not understood these days, at least not by the academics.

Oct 21, 2015 at 9:29 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

This is a technology that's known to work. It's not cold fusion. It's certainly not perpetual motion.

So is this worthwhile?
I put it to you that no-one knows without looking at the plans in detail or going up and doing a full audit.

It may well be a boondoggle. Or it may be sound stewardship of the University's resources. We can't know.
It needs to be assessed on a case by case basis; these questions can't be rationally addressed by online debate.

Sorry about being so negative.

Oct 21, 2015 at 9:32 AM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

Another green vainglory, this plant will be set up and working. BUT in a few years time it will be closed down due to a published audit revealing that, without considerable taxpayer subsidy the whole scheme was never efficient, still less a viable heating alternative.

I simply cannot believe that this scheme is workable, it reminds me of CCS - pumping CO2 into big holes requires energy and that energy has to be generated, thus defeating the object. All this is - gesture politics and advocacy - fashioning renewable white elephants, is akin to making religious gewgaws and false idols, effigies offered to the gods of the green religion.

The electorate north of the border need to rethink and hastily - their passion for all things SNP.

Oct 21, 2015 at 9:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Can anyone say "Energy Return on Energy Invested"?

I reckon it's another one of those schemes that is "economical" for its owners, thanks only to enormous (and largely hidden) subsidies from the taxpayer.

Oct 21, 2015 at 9:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Duffin

Perhaps this is a biomass digester plant to take those grass cuttings from the locak golf courses. Could work to produce electric power but heat losses over that distance will loose all the heat unless pumped at very high pressure to produce high velocity water. Even then there are pressure problems, a new ball game.

Not my idea of a good plan.

Oct 21, 2015 at 9:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

"Warm water" schemes can be very effective.

Not directly comparable, but where I live the footpaths are heated by groundwater. I've tested the groundwater at 11 degrees C. It's a closed system with the groundwater being extracted from a source about 1km away, pumped through matrices set under the paths, and returned to the aquifer. We are right at the end of the line, but it is very effective at that distance. The footpaths aren't warm enough to melt snow at anywhere near the rate it settles, but it does prevent icy hardpack from forming and makes it easy to clear of snow.

The ground is a good insulator. Assuming the water is at a reasonable temperature, once the fill around the pipes is up to temperature, it should work just fine. Pumping water takes less energy than heating it, especially in a closed system. If the worst comes to the worst, at least the road between St Andrews and the station will be ice-free. :)

Oct 21, 2015 at 9:52 AM | Registered CommenterHector Pascal

St Andrews is a very keen trougher. It already has planning permission for a 6 turbine wind farm which was hugely controversial.

The University plans to construct a six-turbine wind cluster, saving 19,000 tonnes of carbon per year and helping towards its goal of becoming the world’s first carbon neutral university.
The University claims it will be "self sufficient for electrical energy". Is it going off-grid? What will it do when the wind stops blowing? Does it have an engineering department?

Oct 21, 2015 at 10:04 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

It's very similar to communal heating schemes commonly used in small/medium sized communities in Russia in the past, and perhaps still in use. A central (usually coal fired) boiler heats water which is distributed by underground pipes to individual buildings. If deep enough and well lagged, heat losses are not great, but 4 miles is a lot of pipe. Bear in mind that we currently use ground source heat pumps, via buried pipes, to provide building heat.

Oct 21, 2015 at 10:06 AM | Unregistered Commenterseedy

I was quite surprised at the Icelandic installation - the water is piped 10s of km, in something like a 6" pipe with maybe 4" insulation (It could be less, this is from memory 2 years ago). Hot water is accumulated in the town centre and distributed on demand (the long pipe supplies average rather than peak load capacity). Temperature loss from source was much less than I expected, and remember if the system runs 24/7, water at say 35C is plenty to maintain a modern building at 20C. Radiator flow temps of 70C are only needed if you have no insulation, or want a fast response.
Reykjavik has the advantage of an always on source (waste heat from electricity plant, maybe even cooled more before use) and that might affect the long term economy.

Oct 21, 2015 at 10:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterSean Houlihane

District heating schemes are quite widely used; much of Copenhagen is heated this way using the waste heat from electricity generation. The heat loss is easily managed and the overall system is quite efficient. Whether generating the heat using a biomass plant is economic or efficient is another matter. Time will tell.

Oct 21, 2015 at 10:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterTBad

As St Andrews is so keen on these renewable energy technologies it is surprising that both the wind farm and biomass plant are being built so far form the University. They should be on the campus so that the students get to experience first hand the noise, visual impact, traffic, pollution and smell. They would be marvelous teaching aids, showing medieval technology at work.

Oct 21, 2015 at 10:25 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

The military did similar and my experience was RAF stations in the 60/70s. The huge pipes over long distance were both above and below ground and the latter in concrete ducts, many being paths. Not all wrapped in insulation stuff. They heated both domestic and admin/tech blocks. That was the days of no extra taxes on fuel and burn as much as you can to get up to temp. All target buildings uninsulated and of terrible build of course.

Apart from radiators that silted up the thing worked. Thats until the oil embargo (73/74) and we then piled on all remaining blankets with greatcoats on top of that. It was very cold at RAF Newton I remember and was not much different ever after. RAF Germany was better and I think largely due to old and new german builds...substantial stuff.

I'd much preferred the old wooden huts with the coal fires in, but they had gone. (up their own lum likely)

I won't mention the cr*p Economy 7 junk in married quarters. I will..mold/infections and cold early in the afternoon (Lincolnshire). We're trying to run an IAF there, waving at the Russian Air Force (USSR) over the N. Sea mainly. Rather as we do now.

Oct 21, 2015 at 10:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterEx-expat Colin

Are there any details available about this or is the information only given in a press release?

Without any details it is impossible to say if this will work and be able to pay for itself. We need to know such things as water temperature, pumping pressure (and number of intermediate pumping stations if any), volume of water moved, how they propose to use the heat when they get it to the destination (heat pumps ???), is this going to be run 24/7/365?

Only when we get answers to those questions will it be possible to say if this is a working proposition or just a gesture to the gods of green and subsidies. My gut feeling it is the latter - the fact they have a somewhat unreliable source of heat tends to point towards requiring subsidies to keep it going. The other thing that we require information on is where do they propose getting the power to run it from?

Oct 21, 2015 at 10:29 AM | Unregistered Commenterivan

Why don't we just keep Longannet open, at least until 2025 when there might be some Chinese nuclear power.

Oct 21, 2015 at 10:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterGuirme

Would be as well received if it was called a wood-fired or wood-burning hot water plant?

St Andrews University hopes to slash its energy bills and create an “economic centre in Fife” by building a £25 million “green” centre.

Rising fuel bills represent a “major threat” to investment for teaching and research, according to Scotland’s oldest university.

The proposed renewable energy project at Guardbridge would generate power through wood-fuelled biomass, then pump hot water four miles underground to heat and cool labs and residences in St Andrews.

The centre, at the site of the former Curtis Fine Papers mill, would also become a “knowledge exchange hub” and create employment.

Oct 21, 2015 at 10:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterSpeed

CHP is the only way that UK Government can meet its CO2 emission' targets, whilst staying in the EU.

Oct 21, 2015 at 10:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

Sure it's feasible. We do that in almost every city in Finland. In my home town there is a big coal plant, that produces the heating water for the whole city. Basically, you can burn anything to produce the hot water. You could even use waste heat from nuclear plants to do it.

Oct 21, 2015 at 10:53 AM | Registered CommenterVieras

Is St Andrews doing this purely as a "green" thing or does it intend to do some actual research?

For example, they could sample the incoming biomass to determine its composition and source.
They could sample the emissions from burning the biomass at the source and at various distances to determine what emissions it gives off.
They can measure the usable energy obtained (hot water) and the losses with distance.

Since it is their biomass plant they could perform any number of useful tests, measurements and analysis which would contribute to the sum of human knowledge.

Alternatively they could just use it a PR gimmick and a source of funding.

Oct 21, 2015 at 11:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

"trees from 50 mile radius" ... is the kind of thing that caused Scotland in the 1750s to have so few trees that the maps of William Roy show almost no forest.

It was only when Scotland moved away from unsustainable tree burning to sustainable coal, that Scotland's forests finally started regrowing and barring a cataclysmic plague killing off most Scots, we will be reliant on fossil fuels for a viable economy for the foreseeable future.

As for producing heat-energy - there was always a very viable and cheap way of doing this and it was called "heat from waste". This was a scheme whereby we dumped all our waste in the bins, the council would then burn the burnables and produce cheap reliable energy.

The other ways of producing heat that work are:

1. Solar hot water heating - paradoxically more beneficial in Scotland due to our cold spring and autumn weather.
2. Energy from fermenting shit.

And I suggest this scheme fits neatly into the latter category!

Oct 21, 2015 at 11:14 AM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

The geothermal water used in Iceland comes from water deep down under pressure and thus superheated.

It therefore must be cooled down before distribution... heat loss is not a negative, it is a positive!

Oct 21, 2015 at 11:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

it is always "acceptable" when the alternatives are not considered or considered to be "nothing", let it waste off.
the soviets did this a lot, nuclear heating was pumped to appartments, the thermostata were people opening windos.

it would have been much much more sensible to build andheat a swimming pool next to the plant, anda greenhouse for the biology deptmt

but then the young boys and girls would have to move their fancy assuaged *rse now and then which is of coiurse entirely unacceptable whe they have to prepare to get wasted in the evening.

the best education for 18-25y 9lds is a JOB, and that includes our future brain surgeons and rocket sxientists, never mind the utterly clueless in the overcrowded humanities deptmt.

Oct 21, 2015 at 11:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterVenusNotWarmerDueToCO2

I can answer your question from practical experience.

When I met my wife in the 1980s she was living in the outskirts of Oslo. The entire housing estate was supplied with free hot water that was generated from a nearby waste disposal incinerator. This incinerator was certainly a couple of miles away, and quite possibly 3 or 4 miles away. The system worked really well, endless supply of domestic hot water, and heating for hot water radiators. So I guess that the temperature must have been around 80degC.

I was impressed by it, and my wife told me that it was common practice in Norway to make use of waste heat/energy in this manner This was the 1980s so one can see how forward thinking the Scandinavians are, but then again if you live in a harsh climate, you have to be well prepared and make sure that you are properly adapted.

Whilst I am sure that the piping is insulated, I guess also that the ground acts as a good insulator so that there is not that much heat loss. But when the energy is free (being a by product of the waste disposal unit and which would be wholly lost if not tapped into) a little bit of heat loss is not a big issue.

Depending upon installation cost, it can only be a win scenario. So I do not consider it to be PR or greenness gone mad, but rather something that makes sound commonsense. much better than windmills, or solar.

Oct 21, 2015 at 11:28 AM | Unregistered Commenterrichard verney

I would suggest an FOI to winkle out the financial case

Oct 21, 2015 at 11:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Homewood

It has been done in this country before, on a reasonable scale, in Sheffield. A nearby waste-burning power station, instead of using cooling towers to vent the heat into the atmosphere, sent its hot water to a collection of council flats, for use in their central heating. For some reason, these flats are now seen as architecturally important enough for further, costly renovation (whether they are “renovating” them to the purpose-built slums they were, or to a higher standard, I don’t know). I am not sure if the power station is still operating, or, if it is, what they now do with the waste heat.

It does make sense, if the power station is within a viable range, to use the waste heat that is produced more constructively – even if it is just to provide “underfloor” heating of the town centre’s roads and footpaths – than just venting it to the atmosphere, which is what most UK power stations still do.

Oct 21, 2015 at 11:47 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

There is surely a large financial difference between water heating supplied by waste and that supplied by bought in biomass, which is also bound to rapidly denude the countryside of its trees in the 50 mile radius. The St Andrews one will not be the only biomass plant in the vicinity, there is already a huge one in Glenrothes..

Oct 21, 2015 at 11:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

Is anyone entitled to apply for a free £10 million to install a new central heating system? I promise I won't dig up the road, build a swimming pool, or disturb the neighbors.

Oct 21, 2015 at 12:02 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

A 50-mile radius from St Andrews comprises about 50% sea, pretty much the entire industrial belt of Scotland and some extended road links as a result of crossing huge estuaries. As locations for biomass plants go, this is a spectacularly cretinous fail.

Greens screw up. As usual.

Oct 21, 2015 at 12:08 PM | Registered Commenterflaxdoctor

As others have said above this is not new technology. Large industrial complexes, Universities, hospitals, the MOD etc have been using 'District Heating for 50 years in the UK. Having one central heat producing 'boiler', and then piping that heat to individual buildings into a heat exchanger (calorifier) for conversion into a conventional piped water heating and hot water system is easy.

Pumping the heat around as very hot steam, as opposed to water at near boiling point, reduces the frictional losses over distance.

In many films with scenes set in industrial complexes, these are the pipes, with steam coming out,, running along roads etc.

In the UK, power generation, with surplus waste heat on an industrial scale, has been kept away from residential areas.

In the UK, with houses built for sale, there has been no advantage to developers to invest in district heating costs.

St Andrews may be connecting to a new source of heat, rather installing a new system from scratch.

Oct 21, 2015 at 12:25 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Costing this will be a pretty straightforward process.

There will be an initial investment and a running cost, and from that a certain amount of heat will be provided. It should be easy to determine the unit cost of that delivered energy, and compare it to any alternative forms of energy which are available to the homes in the region.

All this can, and should have been done as part of the business case for the project. The calculation should have been published (perhaps as part of the grant application?) and if it has not, an FOI request should readily produce it.

The things to look out for are costing the heat cheaply by missing out the grant amount, and claiming that the 'green energy' plant is more economical than conventional systems by counting in the CHP data, but leaving it out for conventional fuel.

Oct 21, 2015 at 12:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

As a St Andrew alumnus, I tend to find that their gesture politics (at University level) are only done when they have been carefully considered and costed, so I am inclined to believe this is viable, especially considering that the majority of the University's non-town-centre buildings are around a single site (the North Haugh) which presumably already shares heating and the like, so this is likely to be plugging into existing infrastructure. Indeed, the University where I work now uses a similiar system (not biomass as far as I know) to heat most of its campus.

And having driven down that road as snow started to fall (not in St Andrews obviously - it is much warmer there than around it), anything heating it up slightly from below is a good thing - it frosts up terribly.

As to the biomass availability, Fife and nearby Angus (and Lothian) are arable farming areas, so produce waste. And the site of the generator is nicely close to the quite large and rapidly growing Tentsemuir Forest. For those suggesting this will strip trees from the landscape, you do realise that biomass grows. If it is available, might as well use it - just don't pretend it is in any way cutting carbon emissions...

Oct 21, 2015 at 12:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterWatchman

Historically, asbestos was frequently used as insulation. The cost of carrying out minor pipe repairs became vast, due to the risks from the asbestos, and they fell into disrepair and out of favour. Alternatives are now economic.

Leaking joints exacerbated by thermal expansion/contraction are now less of a problem due to modern materials

I do not know about the costs of this or any other similar project, but if money had not been wasted on Carbon Capture and Storage, these systems could have been brought back into favour much sooner.

Ironically, the global warming alarmists are encouraging people to install diesel generators for their reliable electricity, and abandon the grid. This is a good indication that common sense, and Green thinking, have never been introduced.

Oct 21, 2015 at 12:47 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

One can make the sums work on almost any project if 40% of the capital is a bung.

As discussed above, lots of schemes exist that recycle the effectively free waste energy from other parts of the heat system within which one lives. Iceland is effectively a volcano. So one is not surprised that geothermal energy works well and has been well executed. Scandinavia is an empty hostile wilderness. Hostile environments learn to look after energy well. Wonder if you will at the countless megawatts of energy used around and about the planet to get rid of heat via aircon. A cooling tower has long been a sin. But the differential driver is money. If energy is realtively expensive compared to capital, the wit will be found at the margin to recycle it.

The ground is a surprisingly effective insulator against heat-loss but "biomass"? Does that mean burning stuff to keep warm just like what the cavemen used to do? And I hear that some biomass arrives here in big ships from America. Are we all mad? At least though it is a sign that the St Andrews loons are easing up on their windmill fixation.

Oct 21, 2015 at 1:20 PM | Unregistered Commenterabsalom

Being familiar with the crap road from Leuchars to St Andrews, this would be a great opportunity to widen it.
Considering that golf at St Andrews is a multi million cash cow for the whole of Fife, they could easily afford it. Oh sorry I forgot, the numpties are trying to get all private transport off the roads.
I must stop this tilting at windmills.

Oct 21, 2015 at 1:23 PM | Unregistered Commenterpatrick healy

absalom + 1

patrick healy, I am not familiar with the area around St Andrews at all. Is there a good reason why the source of heat needs to be so far away from the end user? If it is objections from locals about environmental concerns, then biomass is obviously not very environmental to human residents.

Accountants are always drawn to the cost benefits of Green Subsidies and Grants. The UK solar industry is now blaming their failure on the lack of taxpayer generosity, not their inability to provide a product that the average consumer would pay for.

Oct 21, 2015 at 2:21 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

If the project relates to the Old Guardbridge paper mill site and the benefits claimed are delivered it seems on the whole to be a worthwhile project,85147,en.php


Oct 21, 2015 at 2:48 PM | Unregistered Commentertonyb

"My initial thoughts were that the whole University idea is crackpot, but maybe I am wrong? TM"

Universities are a crackpot idea? You may be right there. Certainly there seems to be a strain of hysteria which has struck them - the shut down of free speech, the lunacy of "safe spaces", the insanity of "trigger warnings". WTF has happened to them, and WTF has happened to the kids who go there?

"The demand for equality that emerges on college campuses today is primarily underpinned by two things: identity politics and a perception of individuals as suffering from trauma. Students have become attached to the particular trauma they identify with; they see it as a badge of honour and any perceived slight becomes a threat to their sense of who they are.’"

Oct 21, 2015 at 2:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

A quick calculation:

It looks like St And’s has about 50 buildings, many old, some new, all with updated double pane windows. The buildings are all less than 6 stories and appear to average in the 200,000 square foot range. Using ConEd’s calculator for New York, an estimate of heating cost using oil for one 200,000 square foot building kept at 70F is $110,000. Multiply that by 50 equals $5,500,000 per year that St And’s spends on heat and I suspect that is quite a high estimate. Divide $38,500,000 (the cost of the green project) by $5,500,000 and you get 7 years that St And’s could heat for the price of the construction alone. Add in the price of actually running the waste to energy and things go south fast.

Here in Maryland we built a huge, publicly funded, solar array at Mount Saint Mary’s University at a cost of $65,000,000. At current retail electricity prices it will take about 30 years for the project to break even. With the cost of running the St And’s project I suspect that they will never break even.

Add to this the amount of oil used to make the materials and build these projects and even their carbon footprint is bigger than just using the current fossil technology. But I don’t think that this matters, what does matter is that, like recycling glass, it makes people feel good.

Oct 21, 2015 at 3:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterRedbone

Yes Tonyb it is the old paper mill, and is another example of real industry being replaced by unicorn fart manufacturing. It closed due to sky high energy prices - just like the steel industry. We now import all our fine paper from the far east.

Golf Charlie it is 4 or 5 miles from source to user.
You make a good point.
If these green apostles must have their totems, I can not understand why not build them beside the end-users.
There is plenty of room for windmills around the 18th fairway on the Old Course.
If you are ever unfortunate enough to visit the once beautiful Highlands of Scotland, you will be appalled at the desecrated landscape with pylons, windmills and access roads scaring the rural idyll.
All this to get power to Glasgow and Edinburgh hundreds of miles distant. Why not build them in these cities?
Btw it is nice of the English consumers to keep subsidising them - even when/if our fishwifie Nicola the Sturgeon gets independence.

Oct 21, 2015 at 3:13 PM | Unregistered Commenterwaterside4

Here is the approved planning application (all 150 documents!)

Oct 21, 2015 at 3:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Richards

Ruston Bucyrus did it in Lincoln City (housing nearby) while the rest of Lincolnshire froze. Might still be?

Oct 21, 2015 at 3:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterEx-expat Colin

I assume they'll have to have a heat store near to St Andrews so they can unlink the timing of heat and electricity demand timings?

I would have thought they could have been a little more imaginative than this. There's heat pumps for a start, given they live right on the coast. After all, The Festival Hall has been heated by heat pumps since the 50s, using the Thames as a heat source. That would have been far cheaper.

And, why not use their windmills to heat a local hot water store?

I imagine the answer to these questions is that they are following guidance from their fellow countrymen in how to farm green subsidies. It's probably a new university speciality; no doubt at masters degree level. They're doing just grand on the grants though, aren't they?

Oct 21, 2015 at 3:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

The Council, through a consortium, has already tried to get five wind turbines on the narrow strip of grass just across the road from the Old Course. The turbines were was turned down quite early on in the planning process which was for a new two storey "visitor centre" with a shiny hemispherical roof and naturally, a biomass plant. No doubt they'll be back again with another plan before too long. The only thing really needed was some new lavatories and perhaps a larger café to replace the ice cream shack that is there at the moment.

Oct 21, 2015 at 3:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

It's not about what is the best method of generating electricity for use on the site. It's not about what is the best way to heat the site. It's about what is the best way to get most subsidy from the consumers and taxpayers.

St Andrews schemes remind me of a local farmer:
Wind turbine for electricity- big subsidy, tick.
5 biomass boilers to heat chicken sheds - big subsidy, tick.
AD plant for electricity - big subsidy, tick.
Heat produced by AD plant - no subsidy, so waste the heat and use biomass boilers.
Proposed new biomass boiler to heat proposed new chicken sheds - big subsidy, tick.
Proposed solar panels on chicken sheds for electricity - big subsidy, tick.

Oct 21, 2015 at 3:56 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Steve Richards, Planning Officers (Council employees) can only make recommendations on the merits of what is presented, taking into consideration National, County, and Local, Laws, Regulations, Policies and Guidance

Planning Committees, made up of elected Councillors, making decisions based on what seemed like a good idea at the time.

Neither Officers, nor Councillors can be expected to know how the politics of subsidies and price fixing will change within the EU, or outside the EU, and further distort supply and demand economics.

One of the advantages in the UK of District Heating 50 years ago, was it allowed the use of the fuel oil that nobody wanted and was cheap. This was the oil that at ambient temperature was so thick, it was effectively solid, and did not flow down a pipe. By storing it 'hot', it was economic to use, but only if it was delivered, stored and used in bulk. The cost of this fuel heating was factored into the overal scheme.

Those who use domestic heating oil, with a storage tank, should be aware of winter heating oil. This waxes up at lower temperatures. Scenes of lorry drivers lighting fires beneath their fuel tanks are remembered by many in the UK, because diesel will also wax. Winter fuel oil, and diesel should have an antifreeze additive.

The German diesel fuelled war machine ground to a halt in frozen Russia, over 70 years ago. Once waxed up, it is not easy to keep diesel fuel lines wax free in sub zero temperatures. The Russians knew this. Soviet equipment does run better, partially fueled by vodka.

Oct 21, 2015 at 4:10 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Capell @ 3.33PM:

I think that you will find that although the Festival Hall was initially heated by a heat pump taking energy from the Thames (using a Rolls Royce Merlin engine to drive the compressor), it was removed very early on and has for a long time been heated using fossil fuels. It is not clear why the heat pump was removed.

Oct 21, 2015 at 4:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Post

10 mil? Wow. makes the 30 grand they're going to give me for a 20kw open loop geothermal system look cheap!

I can't be the first denier on the green gravy train :p

Well, if you can't beat em ;)

Oct 21, 2015 at 4:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrosty

Hellisheidi hot water production and supply

Fresh ground water is heated to 50°C with the steam from the turbines. The water is heated again by heat exchange up to 83°C.

The reheated water is pumped to a 950m3 capacity hot water storage tank at the plant site via a 1m wide and 360m long pipe. The hot water is further supplied to the Reykjavík city via a 19.5km long pre-insulated underground pipe line with diameter of 0.9m to 1m.

Construction of the Hellisheidi hot water main pipeline started in 2008. The pipeline was brought into service towards the end of 2010 and has a maximum flow rate of 2,250l/s.

Oct 21, 2015 at 4:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

Billy Liar, did they name Hell is Heidi after an American activist?

Oct 21, 2015 at 5:15 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

"...Or it may be sound stewardship of the University's resources." --M Courtney

i question whether sound stewardship involves "several months" to run a pipeline under a road. It sounds suspiciously like they're going to tear up the road and then build the entire system, and put the road back when they're done. Depending on the terrain, it's possible to go under a road without cutting into it. And, otherwise, you only need to have the road torn up long enough to put in the pieces of pipe passing under it, a matter of days. Something doesn't add up.

Oct 21, 2015 at 5:47 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

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