SSE Energy Solutions and National Grid have announced a collaboration to capture waste heat from electricity transformers to generate hot water and heating for homes and businesses.

It is claimed the link-up aimed at turning power grid transformers into “boilers” could save millions of tonnes of CO2 and help “decarbonise heat networks”.

The heat recovery project is expected to initially reduce heat network carbon emissions by more than 40 per cent versus traditional gas-led systems.

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The technology also offers an important route to net zero heat when applied to transformers served by 100% renewable electricity from wind or solar farms.

It is claimed the project has the potential to save significant amounts of CO2 if rolled out across National Grid’s network of transformers across England and Wales, harnessing this waste heat via SSE heat networks to serve towns and cities.

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Nathan Sanders, managing director at Perth-based SSE Energy Solutions, said it “effectively turns transformers into community ‘boilers’”.

“Electric power transformers generate huge amounts of heat as a by-product when electricity flows through them,” he said. “At the moment, this heat is just vented directly into the atmosphere and wasted.

“By their very nature, electricity transformers are primarily located where people live, work and consume energy meaning that they have the potential to be incredibly valuable community assets if we apply a bit of clever thinking."

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Mr Sanders said: “This groundbreaking project aims to capture that waste heat and effectively turn transformers into community ‘boilers’ that serve local heat networks with a low or even zero-carbon alternative to fossil-fuel powered heat sources such as gas boilers.”

Alexander Yanushkevich, of National Grid, said: “We are proud to partner with SSE Energy Solutions to develop this innovative technology and support decarbonisation of heat, which is essential to achieve net zero.

"When the solution is fully developed and tested, we can use it in any of our 350 substations and provide heat to local consumers.

"Together with SSE, National Grid is a Principal Partner of COP26, and projects like these are a great example of how, taking a whole system approach, the UK can lead the way in helping accelerate decarbonisation.”

SSE Energy Solutions’ heat recovery technology is currently undergoing a proof-of-concept trial at National Grid’s Deeside Centre for Innovation, the first facility in Europe where assets associated with electricity networks can be tested off-grid.