A ground-breaking energy scheme which harnesses the power of the River Tay to heat homes will fight fuel poverty and dramatically slash household bills, council chiefs have pledged.
The ambitious £8.2 million heat pump system, understood to be the first of its kind in Scotland, will generate thermal energy from the Tay at Perth using revolutionary carbon-free technology.
Pumps will turn cold river water into a source of warmth and would be used to heat properties in the city’s North Muirton area.
Households linked to the project can expect to see their electricity bills drop by around £200 a year, and by £100 from their gas heating.
During its first phase, the scheme, which also aims to reduce carbon emissions by 450 tonnes per year, will benefit more than 200 homes, North Muirton Primary School, businesses at the new Food and Drink Park and possibly other public buildings.
A feasibility study shows that the project could eventually be rolled out to boost nearly 2,000 properties.
Next week, councillors will be urged to back the plan and investigate funding. The Scottish Government has already pledged £2m from its Local Energy Challenge Fund.
A further £4.5m could be borrowed by the council, which would be paid back from heat sales.
The remaining amount would be gathered from other sources.
If approved, the scheme could become one of the biggest demonstrator projects of its type in the UK.
The project will tie in with a new 300-panel solar park which has recently been completed in the north of the city.
Councillor Alan Grant, who is vice-convener of the strategy policy and resources committee, hopes the pump system will help lure new businesses to the area.
“This project allows us to tap into the immense power of the River Tay in a way which will not harm wildlife, but will provide a source of renewable energy and access to cheaper heating to reduce fuel poverty in the north of the city and help attract more food and drink-related businesses to Perth on the basis of lower energy costs.”
He added: “The project will also be used as a model for the roll-out of similar schemes, across the region and potentially across Scotland.”
Mr Grant said similar projects in other parts of the world had been successful. “This has worked particularly well in the Netherlands and Denmark and we have here a major river that could be a major source of heat and we know that it has succeeded in other places,” he said.
“It seemed too good an opportunity to miss and may attract businesses as we can reduce their energy bills.”