New research published by environmental charity greenspace scotland reveals how the untapped energy potential from Scottish parks and green spaces could provide low carbon heat for homes, reducing Scotland’s carbon footprint.
Public parks and green spaces across Scotland offer the potential to supply low carbon heat to at least 15% of Scottish households. This would save the same amount of carbon as 10 years growth from planting 9½ million tree saplings.
Tackling the problem of weaning buildings off their dependence on gas-based heating is challenging. Scotland is unlikely to meet its target for supplying 11% of heat demand from low carbon sources by 2020.
Most recent estimates suggest they are nearer 6%. This new report estimates that heat from the ground in urban green space could supply 5% of their total heat demand.
Funded by the National Lottery Heritage and Community Funds, and Nesta through the Rethinking Parks programme, the ParkPower project developed a data-driven approach to assess the green energy generation capacity of green spaces.
This was then applied at a national scale to over 3,500 parks and green spaces across Scotland to analyse their potential. The findings suggest that certain parks could soon be contributing heat to Scottish homes and buildings.
These spaces will also be able to provide much needed green electricity from solar and hydro schemes, further supporting Scotland’s growing needs for electric vehicle charging.
Saughton Park in Edinburgh has been a forerunner, with heat being harvested from the ground below a sports pitch and car park. Complementing this, a micro-hydro scheme will supply renewable power from a turbine on the Water of Leith that runs along the edge of the park.
The ambition is to replicate and scale up this model to generate large volumes of heat and transport it to leisure centres, schools, hospitals and colleges.
The report also reveals which Scottish local authorities have the greatest untapped energy potential from their parks and green spaces. These authorities have declared climate emergencies and are currently drawing up plans to achieve their net zero carbon targets.
Glasgow is rated as the local authority with the greatest potential to meet its heat demand from sub-surface heat collectors. It is closely followed by Edinburgh, with Fife, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire and Dundee making up the top six.
greenspace scotland is currently working to undertake strategic assessments to identify their optimal ParkPower sites.
The ParkPower project is one of 13 projects across the UK supported by the Rethinking Parks programme.