Image credit: Thriving Green Spaces Scotland

A new independent study has revealed that Edinburgh’s parks, green spaces and rivers could become important sources of low-carbon heat for residents and businesses in the Scottish capital.

Published by greenspace scotland, with support from the City of Edinburgh Council and other local authority partners, the Green Heat in Greenspaces study found that by using heat pump technology to take heat from the air and ground, rivers and greenspaces could act as major low carbon heat generators for homes and businesses across the city.

The combined potential of urban greenspaces and blue spaces in Scotland for supplying low carbon heat. Credit: greenspace scotland

According to greenspace scotland, natural gas currently accounts for 35% of Edinburgh’s total greenhouse gas emissions and is used in around two-thirds of domestic houses and 40% of non-domestic properties. The research, which was supported by the Council’s Thriving Green Spaces project, revealed that Edinburgh’s rivers, lakes, parks and other green spaces have the potential to supply 42% of the city’s heat demand saving millions of tonnes of carbon and helping the city achieve its target of net zero emissions by 2030.

Applied across Scotland, the move has the potential to supply nearly 80% (41 TWh) of the heat needed in towns and cities across the country, saving 4.7 million tonnes CO2e annually. That is the carbon saving equivalent of taking 1.7 million cars (or 60% of cars in Scotland) off the road for a year.

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Culture and Community Convener Donald Wilson said: “As a partner in the Green Heat in Greenspaces programme, we have been exploring how our green and blue spaces could be used to support renewable energy opportunities. The recently released findings from the study show that in Edinburgh we could supply almost half of the city’s heat demand ensuring that more people in Edinburgh have access to cleaner, greener heat.

“While the national findings report highlights the potential of this technology across Scotland, Edinburgh is already leading the way having deployed this technology at Saughton Park, the UK’s first ‘low carbon park’ where the micro-hydro system and ground source heat pumps provide heat to the buildings on site and we look forward to continuing this work through the city.”