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Spirax Sarco uses sustainable steam to power Scottish town

When a small town in the Scottish Highlands set its sights on finding an energy-efficient way to power 200 homes and a new distillery, they enlisted the help of Spirax Sarco to maximise the efficiency of their biomass boiler. Martin Kent, Project Sales Support Manager at Spirax Sarco, explains how sustainable steam technology now provides this community with renewable heat and power all year round.

In today’s increasingly environmentally-conscious world, we’re all looking to become more sustainable; whether that’s by switching to a reusable coffee cup or paper straws. But, scale up these eco-conscious efforts to a district heating scheme and you could be faced with some pretty unique challenges.

Energy efficient fuel for an entire community

One town in Scotland was faced with this very dilemma when they looked at introducing a sustainable, energy-efficient means of fuelling two hundred homes. The town introduced a 3.5MW biomass boiler, feed tank, turbine and load-levelling vessel in the existing energy centre – all of which would provide heat and energy for the plant.

You might think the job was complete at this stage; after all, biomass is now providing a renewable energy source at a relatively low-cost for the town. But, the energy company responsible for the town’s utilities saw an opportunity to introduce a local distillery into the district heating scheme.

For this, they needed some help. Spirax Sarco was brought in to assist with the design and specification of energy-saving steam technology for the newly-developed plant. Our role was to help by making sure that the new system used as much available energy as possible. Why? To ensure the biomass system would be able to meet everyone’s needs – the residents, the distillery’s and the needs of local business.

Benefits of energy-saving sustainable steam

Spirax Sarco created a full design specification with drawings and accompanying stress analysis report that recommended the use of a 20-bar g steam system that incorporated a second load-levelling vessel with level, steam and condensate control systems, steam surplus pressure reduction systems, double-block and bleed isolation valves, steam ancillaries and a pressure reduction station for the steam turbine.

In order to cut waste and utilise all of the available energy, the distillery is supplied with steam for process and the district heating system is supplied with hot water from steam to water and water to water heat exchange packaged systems.

The benefits to the distillery come in the form of a low-carbon, energy-efficient way of heating the fermented wash, because both the sensible and latent heat dissipate into the liquid. Pretty amazing right? The benefits to the distillery don’t stop there, the condensate return system recycles the collected condensate from the process to provide hot water, making it even more of a sustainable choice!

Could steam be the next big thing in renewable energy?

Investing in sustainability doesn’t just have to mean ditching the plastic shopping bag and buying an electric car. This Scottish town is now benefiting from sustainably-sourced heat and power via its heating network, meaning all 200 homes are positively contributing to the UK’s carbon reduction efforts.

You don’t need to distil whisky or live in the Highlands to benefit from sustainable steam. The rise of district heating schemes that deliver cost-effective, low-carbon heat across the UK are testament to the role steam can play in the future decarbonisation of the energy grid.

For more information, visit www.spiraxsarco.com.

Martin’s blog was originally posted on the Spirax Sarco website. You can read it in full here.

Company Profile

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Spirax Sarco

Spirax Sarco is world leader in high quality products for the control and efficient use of steam and other industrial fluids.

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