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UK: Heat pumps utilising the heat from Scotland’s plentiful rivers and lochs could save Scottish businesses £250 million a year, it is claimed.

According to David Pearson, of Star Renewable Energy, which conducted the new research, said: “Heat pumps have the potential to save Scottish businesses £250m a year – enough to employ almost 10,000 people at the country’s average salary.

He maintains that heat pumps – hailed as “game changing” by UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey last month – could be used to turn cold water from rivers, lochs and even flooded mine shafts into cheap, renewable warmth for tens of thousands of business around Scotland.

It is estimated that heat pumps taking water from the River Kelvin could save Glasgow University £1.6m a year off its £2m gas bill. At Cranhill housing estate, in the east of the city, the use of water from the Camlachie Burn, which flows under 200 homes, could reduce heating costs by 80%.

In Edinburgh, it is estimated the city’s airport could reduce its energy costs by 80%, using water from the River Almond, which flows alongside its runway.

Star Refrigeration has already successfully deployed the technology at high temperatures in the Norwegian City of Drammen, where heat is harvested from a chilly fjord to heat the equivalent of 6,000 houses. The heat is achieved at a cost of 20% of burning gas, and with zero carbon footprint or local emissions from burning fuel.

Pearson said: “An exact replica of the Drammen industrial heat pump run in the UK can generate enough heating for 6000 homes, cut CO2 emissions by 14,050 tonnes a year, and save £1,500pa per household for 20 years.

Star’s pioneering large scale heat pump technology achieve temperatures of up to 90 degrees C – 45 degrees celcius warmer than conventional heat pumps – at the same efficiency, using non ozone-depleting natural refrigerants with zero global warming potential.

Heat pumps, as well as other renewable heat technologies, will be discussed at Scottish Renewables’ Heat and Bioenergy Conference 2014  today, when experts, industry leaders, public sector representatives and investors will debate the future of renewable heat.