A CAMPAIGN is under way in West Lothian to make an historic town self-sufficient in renewable energy.

Linlithgow – the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots – is developing a natural grid, with the aim of disconnecting from the National Grid electricity supply.

And Linlithgow Natural Grid (LNG) has been examining how it could be done using a combination of solar and wind power, along with the innovative “Heat from the Street” project, which has received £25,000 of funding from the Local Energy Challenge Fund.

This would capture heat from waste water flowing beneath the streets of the town, using heat pumps powered by solar electricity. An energy corridor would be created through the town by linking this mini power station with a mini district heat network, serving a cluster of public buildings.

At its heart is a sewage heat recovery system from Sharc Energy Systems that captures heat from the millions of gallons of household waste water making its way to the treatment plant.

The dirty water maintains a fairly constant temperature, and the pump transfers this heat to clean water on its way into homes.

A consultant to the initiative, Chris Cook, said the LNG had Danish roots.

“In 1973 the oil shock which saw prices quadruple from $3 to $12 a barrel hit the Danes very hard, because they relied almost entirely on oil for their heat, electricity and power needs,” he said.

“As a response they applied a simple overarching principle to their energy policy – for a given production of heat, electricity and power use, they mandated the least possible use of carbon fuel.

“They built out as much renewable energy as they could and took every possible step to reduce energy use, in particular community heat and power.”

As a result, Cook said the Danes had seen their GDP double, carbon fuel use drop significantly and carbon emissions also fall.

The country used Scottish wind turbine technology and through a network of community wind co-operatives helped establish Vestas as a world leading turbine manufacturer.

Cook said the same community enthusiasm could fuel the LNG initiative.

“The problem with community renewable energy is that electricity is sold to the big six energy companies for 5p per kilowatt-hour which consumers then buy for 15p,” he said.

“But savings are not only made at the retail price – they also lead to savings from waste in transmission, distribution and power generation where 30 per cent of energy goes up the chimney and cooling towers.”

Cook is also hopeful that Heat from the Street will achieve further funding next year.

“We aim to install community solar panels on blocks of Linlithgow flats and, instead of selling the production on the cheap, use it to power heat pumps to take the heat from waste water to meet sources of high local demand, particularly in public and church buildings.

“And if our initial study gets us through to the next round of the Local Energy Challenge, we well receive funding to implement the project from April 2016.”