The Regional Performance Centre (RPC) Dundee at Caird Park, Dundee, is a community hub that is the beginning of a district heating revolution for the area
With the UK government announcing its 2050 net-zero emissions policy, and the Scottish government setting a 2045 net-zero target, contractors are increasingly required to prioritise sustainability when constructing new developments. It was clear the Regional Performance Centre would need a heating system that could supply both itself and the surrounding buildings with hot water in an environmentally-friendly manner. A district heating scheme represented an innovative solution. By using a district heating network to supply multiple homes, this development could eliminate the cost and environmental damage incurred through fossil fuel boilers in individual properties. It also demonstrates an alternative heating system for developers and local authorities to consider that adheres to the Future Homes Standard 2025 as well as the net-zero targets.
As Scotland’s largest ground source heat pump (GSHP) system, the development uses three GSHPs supplied with water from a series of 120 boreholes, 200m deep, circulating hot water from the on-site energy centre. Powered by a combined heat and power (CHP) unit, these heat pumps supply the main sports hub building and smaller athletics building through the pipework, which is connected to a low-pressure hot water and domestic heat exchanger in each building. REHAU was appointed to supply the required pre-insulated district heating pipework that runs between the energy centre and the rest of the development.
With the heating source and the type of pipework determined, pipe sizes needed to be specified to ensure the immediate and future heating requirements of the development would be satisfied. The heat loads of the development had to be worked out, and it was determined that a 160mm pipe size would be best without incurring any drops in pressure or velocity.
Flexibility and speed
Due to its malleable polymer material, excellent thermal performance afforded by the polyurethane rigid (PUR) foam and the speed at which connections can be made, RAUTHERMEX pipework was favoured. “Because it was so flexible, we were able to bend the pipework slightly around sweeping corners, reducing the amount of elbow joints in the network and therefore the friction in the water flow,” said Gregor Ford, Project Manager at ESB. “We were also able to adapt to anything that changed on-site.”
This ability to be able to install it directly into the trenches and make the connections and joints on-site gave it the edge over heavier steel installations. The relevance of which was not lost on the team when, midway through the project, a large steel water main that could not be diverted or removed was discovered. “We needed to reroute the pipeline at least 500mm below the water main. Using the flexible polymer pipework and the range of components on offer, we were able to use two 45-degree elbow joints and bend the pipe under the main, meaning there was very little disturbance in the flows,” explained Ford.
Pre-insulated polymer pipework is a practical option for renewable district heating systems because it ensures minimal heat losses across the network and improves system efficiency. The lower flow temperature of the heat network is also well suited to polymer piping as it allows for a lifespan of well beyond 50 years.
As sustainability becomes the watchword in construction, the future of traditional heating systems is becoming increasingly uncertain. With that in mind, this project gives a good insight into a practical alternative solution to supplying homes with hot water. Because of initiatives such as the net-zero policy targets and the Future Homes Standard 2025, the Dundee RPC represents a renewable, low-emissions source of heat for the community.
To find out more about REHAU’s district heating solutions, visit: rehau.uk/districtheating