About Aberdeen Heat & Power
WHO WE ARE
Our team at Aberdeen Heat & Power is led by Chief Executive Officer Ian Davidson and a small team of dedicated energy and building professionals. Supporting them are key external financial and technical advisers who bring additional essential skills to the mix.
Strategic guidance comes from our board of directors, with Ramsay Milne as chair. Two seats are reserved for councillor representatives from Aberdeen City Council, and the other directors are selected for their expertise, experience, and knowledge across a broad range of relevant areas.
Aberdeen Heat & Power is a not-for-profit enterprise, organised as a company limited by guarantee. Ownership is not held by shareholders but by members, of whom we have five including the city council and fuel poverty charity Energy Action Scotland. The remaining three are individuals who have historic links with us.
Any surpluses we generate are not distributed as dividends but are reinvested in the business to ensure we are able to continue supplying affordable heat and hot water as well as extending our networks across Aberdeen.
WHAT WE DO
We generate, distribute, and retail heat and hot water to public and private customers across the city of Aberdeen via our network of communal and district low-carbon heat networks.
A heat network is created when two or more homes or commercial spaces are served by a single energy source, typically a boiler or generator. Where the network is contained in one building — such as a block of flats — we call this a communal heat network while those serving more than one building is a district heat network.
Where there is a district heat network, hot water carries heat from a central plant room through a network of specialist insulated pipes. There are two parallel pipes — one takes hot water from the plant, the other returns cooler water for re-heating. We usually bury these pipes, but they can run above ground.
Once inside the customer’s property, the heat network connects via a hydraulic interface unit (HIU) containing a plate heat exchanger to the internal central heating system. A pump in the HIU then pushes the hot water around to the radiators and taps.
And because all the heat generation takes place off the premises, being connected to a district heat network is far less intrusive than running a regular domestic or commercial boiler-based system.
Our plant rooms contain a series of boilers, configured to match both high winter or lower summer demand. Some of our larger networks also run combined heat and power (CHP) units which generate electricity using a reciprocating engine — a little like those used in trucks — with heat as a by-product.
Most of Aberdeen Heat & Power’s generation equipment is currently fired by natural gas, but these can in the future be adapted to run on alternative renewable gas. We also operate thermal stores at our Seaton plant room. These are very large hot water tanks contained in two-skin cylinders with a vacuum between skins. We use them in conjunction with CHP to balance the demand for electricity — which peaks during the day — and for heat, which rises during the evening.
We also recover waste heat from the Lynx Ice Arena’s ice chilling process and we are exploring other options to further reduce our carbon footprint.
Our vision is to deliver affordable, low-carbon warmth to homes and enterprises across Aberdeen through a series of connecting heat networks. We will develop these as standalone, financially viable islands which in time will interconnect to create a city-wide network powered by a series of plant rooms. And as we work towards this ultimate goal, we will also help develop new technologies and harness new fuels across AH&P’s plants.
Sustainable energy comprises three dimensions…
Our primary purpose as a company is to provide affordable warmth that all citizens can enjoy while always being able to control the environment within their homes. Multi-storey block residents have already enjoyed a 40% reduction in heating costs. As residents are able to affordably heat their properties, this not only benefits them in terms of their thermal comfort but also improves the fabric of the buildings in which they live. This has led to an improvement in residents’ health and a reduction in tenancy turnover.
As part of our long-term strategy, we want to move towards net zero carbon and help address the challenge of climate change. AH&P currently uses gas-fired combination heat and power units to provide low-carbon heat and we also provide low-carbon electricity to some properties, with the remainder exported to the grid. Through the technologies we use, we have already reduced carbon emissions by 40% when measured against the suppliers we have replaced. Our vision is to continuously explore lower-emission solutions with the ultimate goal of implementing zero-carbon technologies. We already capture waste heat from the Lynx Ice Arena and deploy thermal storage at our Seaton energy centre, and we will take heat from the Torry energy-from-waste plant. Other technologies we are exploring include heat-from-sewage, hydrogen fuel cells, and anaerobic digestion.
Lower heating bills leave people with more money to spend, and this boosts the local economy across Aberdeen. AH&P also employs five key team members in quality roles, and this number will grow as the company develops. Our activities support many others indirectly along the local supply chain, in particular the engineers and plumbers who install and maintain our pipe networks, plant rooms, and equipment within the homes and buildings we supply.