District Heating - Market Sectors - Star Refrigeration

District Heating

Star's Neatpump turns cold water from rivers, lochs and even flooded mine shafts into cheap, renewable warmth for whole cities, including businesses, hospitals and schools.

In 2011 Star designed, installed and commissioned the world's largest zero carbon 90°C district heat pump to provide heat for Drammen, a Norwegian city of 64,000 people.

The Drammen Neatpump achieved total savings of around €8M and overall carbon savings equivalent to driving 8,320 times around the globe. Star's heatpump covers more than 75% of the annual heat demand of the city and provides energy storage capacity suitable for balancing the electricity grid, one of the major steps towards a future Smart Grid.

The Neatpump technology is so advanced that it can deliver cooling, heating and desalination at the same time, and reach an efficiency of 7. For one unit of electricity, 4 units of heat and 3 units of cooling are generated.

Neatpumps reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 68% compared to gas boilers. Estimates point to a reduction of 87% by the year 2035, when the national grid becomes less carbon intensive.


Dave Pearson

Director - Star Renewable Energy

The innovations that make the Neatpump the most energy efficient, natural refrigerant-powered heat pump system on the planet include the use of ammonia, a non-ozone depleting refrigerant with zero global warming potential and the capability to heat up to 90ºC. Commercial heat pumps use HFCs – potent greenhouse gases – and heat at a maximum of just 65ºC. The ability to heat up to 90ºC means that industrial water heat pump technology can now be used for industrial processes and to retrofit old buildings too.

In 2007, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said "ammonia heatpumps were promising, but impossible above 70⁰C." Four years later, the 13MW Neatpump using zero carbon ammonia and heating up to 90⁰C was commissioned in Norway. Later in 2014, the IEA awarded Star's Group Engineering Director, Andy Pearson, and his team the prestigious Rittinger Medal for the groundbreaking development.

Related Products

Related Case Studies

  • Drammen Neatpump

    UK firm Star Renewable Energy has launched a groundbreaking sustainable heating system which is heating homes and businesses across an entire city in Norway.

    Heat pumps are becoming increasingly popular across Europe as the heat they deliver far exceeds the energy they consume. District heating sees heat generated in a centralised location distributed for residential and commercial heating.

    By 2009, the Norwegian city of Drammen's population had grown to such a degree that its existing district heating system could not cope. While researching ways to expand its capacity, the city's heating company Drammen Fjernvarme, led by Jon Ivar Bakk, discovered the water temperature in the fjord was ideal for heat pumps.

    Star Renewable Energy stood out amongst other bidders during the tender process, despite having no prior experience of water source heat pumps. The Glasgow based company is best known for providing refrigeration systems to some of the UK's biggest retailers, including Tesco and ASDA. As Director Dave Pearson says, "We were the new kids on the block, but we've always had a reputation for pushing boundaries."

    District heat pumps already exist in Scandinavia and across Eastern and Central Europe, providing higher efficiencies than traditional localised boilers. However, many of these first generation systems rely on hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants, which are thousands of times more potent as global warming gases than carbon dioxide when emitted to the atmosphere. HFCs are currently being phased out by the EU under the Montreal Protocol.

    Hence, Star's selling point was simple - while other companies were using HFCs as the coolant, Star proposed using ammonia, a naturally occurring refrigerant with zero ozone depletion potential. Ammonia has never been used in a high temperature heat pump allocation of this type. Electricity for the Drammen system is provided by hydropower, making the Neatpump's carbon emissions virtually zero.

    Star's Neatpump is a renewable energy heat pump that extracts heat from seawater, air or any industrial waste stream, such as air conditioning or large scale cooling processes. This waste heat is captured, compressed, boosted and recycled to provide hot water at up to 90°C for heating buildings on a massive scale. The project was completed in January 2011, and has since delivered over 15MW of heat for the Drammen community of 60,000 people. It is the world's largest district-wide natural heat pump system.

    And if it works in Drammen, it can work anywhere where there is a constant supply of water, standing or flowing.

    In the UK, Star is already working with local housing associations in Glasgow, and is also speaking with a dozen city councils, including Newcastle, Durham, Manchester and Stoke. It is also working on projects in Zurich and the south of France, and bidding for a system in Belgrade. The potential is huge - for example, the Thames could generate 1.25GW of capacity, enough to heat 500,000 homes.

    Dave Pearson says: "Systems such as the Neatpump could literally revolutionise the way we heat factories, hospitals, office buildings, data centres, even entire communities across the globe. The technology behind it is so advanced that it can even be configured to deliver district wide air conditioning, with waste heat providing the energy to drive desalination processes for producing fresh drinking water."

    He adds; "At present, a shocking amount of heat generated through cooling processes worldwide is simply discarded as waste to the atmosphere. Organisations could now be recycling waste heat from their process, air conditioning and IT cooling systems and boosting it for use in their own and neighbouring buildings."

    Star's heat pumps have been providing Drammen district heating with 85% of the hot water needed to heat the city. "We are very happy with it," says Mr Bakk. Having already paid for itself, and with annual savings of around 2m a year and 1.5m tonnes of carbon - the equivalent of taking more than 300,000 cars off the road for a year - it's not hard to see why.

    Star has invested heavily in zero carbon technology and continues to develop new products to provide energy conscious systems for the benefit of customers and the environment.

    Click here to view the full related article on the BBC website.

    Star focuses on the design, manufacture, installation, commissioning and aftercare of industrial refrigeration and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems.

    For more information, phone Star Refrigeration on 0141 638 7916, email star@star-ref.co.uk or visit www.star-ref.co.uk.  Star Refrigeration, Thornliebank Industrial Estate, Glasgow G46 8JW.

  • Norwegian Army

    UK firm Star Refrigeration has designed a groundbreaking renewable energy heat pump system to serve a military base in Norway.

    The Glasgow-based cooling and heating specialist, with Norwegian refrigeration partner Norsk Kulde, has just installed the Neatpump system at the Ramsund Naval Base. Located in the northern county of Troms, the coastal facility is used for Norwegian Army and Royal Norwegian Navy vessel repairs and is also a Special Forces base.

    Star’s Neatpump is an innovative ammonia heat pump plant that extracts heat from seawater in Ramsund’s harbour. A glycol loop submerged in the harbour helps provide hot water and heating to all buildings on the base.

    Neatpump has replaced an ageing heat pump system at the Ramsund base. The previous plant, which operated on synthetic refrigerant R134a, suffered a system failure following less than ten years’ service. The Norwegian Army was looking to replace the existing plant with an environmentally conscious, energy saving heat pump system, with a robust, low maintenance design.

    Unlike many first generation heat pump systems, Star’s Neatpump does not require any synthetic global warming gases (HFCs). It operates using a low charge of ammonia, a naturally occurring refrigerant that has zero ozone depletion potential.

    Ramsund’s Neatpump was built at Star’s Glasgow manufacturing facility and was shipped as a complete packaged unit, ready for installation in an existing plant room at the military base. The plant has a 600kW capacity and a COP (Coefficient of Performance) of 2.7, heating water to temperatures between 60 and 68 degrees Celsius.

    Commenting on the Ramsund project, Kenneth Hoffmann, Star’s Sales Manager – Heating, says: “Energy efficiency and build quality were key to securing this contract. Neatpump’s advanced compressor technology and ultra low maintenance design ensures over 20 years of environmentally conscious service.”

    Kenneth Hoffmann adds: “This is our second Neatpump installation in Norway, working in partnership with Norsk Kulde. Our 15MW district heating system on the Drammen Fjord near Oslo is providing hot water and heating to over 60,000 homes and businesses.”

    Star’s Neatpump is a renewable energy heat pump that extracts heat from seawater, air or any industrial waste stream, such as air conditioning or large scale cooling processes. This waste heat is captured, compressed, boosted and recycled to provide hot water at up to 90°C.

    The Vilter single screw compressor is at the heart of Neatpump. The unique compressor design has balanced pressure across the central rotor, ensuring long life, high reliability and low maintenance. Neatpump is designed to provide over 20 years service without the costly maintenance work associated with other compressor types.

    The high efficiency Neatpump is available with capacities ranging from 300kW to 8000kW. The system can be designed to cool both water and secondary fluids including glycol, making it suitable for a variety of applications including process cooling and heating, AC with heating, steam raising and district cooling, heating and desalination.

    Ideal for both new projects and retrofits, Star’s Neatpump can be commissioned and charged prior to delivery, reducing site installation and commissioning time.

    A world leader in cooling system innovation, Star has developed a range of heat pump solutions to meet the needs of end users in the building services and industrial sectors. As an environmentally conscious supplier, Star’s heat pump solutions typically use natural refrigerants, such as ammonia and carbon dioxide for high efficiency heat generation.

    When it comes to designing energy efficient cooling and heating systems, Star is a natural innovator. Star works with strategic partners across the globe to deliver low carbon, cost saving solutions.