Shetland Heat and Power Shetland Heat and Power Lerwick District Heating Scheme Complete

Vital Energi oversaw the task of connecting Shetland Heat & Power's Waste to Energy scheme to over 800 homes and 100 commercial buildings via 30km of district heating pipe.

“Demand for connections to the Lerwick District Heating Scheme has been greater than we ever envisaged. With a turnover of £1m per year from the sale of heat, it is estimated that some £2m remains in the Shetland economy that would otherwise be spent on imported oil. We are now one of the most successful schemes in the UK and often have people from Britain and Europe visiting our scheme because of the environmental, social and economic benefits it continues to provide.”

Neville Martin District Heating Manager, Shetland Heat Energy and Power

Project Overview

Britain’s most northerly town, Lerwick is at the forefront of environmentally responsible energy provision. It enjoys its own advanced Waste to Energy plant (WTE) which provides heat and electricity to many of the area’s 8,000 inhabitants.

The Challenge

Crucial to this venture’s success however was the design, specification and implementation of an effective and dynamic distribution system – and it was here that Vital Energi was able to help. As further evidence of the project’s innovative approach, it won the coveted Environment Award for Engineers 2000. This £6.5 million project has since become a benchmark against which many future CHP and District Energy schemes will be measured.

Vital Energi's Solution

The large scale application of our full service capabilities and extensive experience. Connecting the WTE plant to the end-user was no simple task. However thanks to our full service capabilities and our extensive experience, Vital Energi was able to realise this demanding brief – from design of the proposed solution, through to its eventual delivery. We began by designing in detail a Peak Load Boiler Station, which included its own pump station and a 2MW and a 6.5MW boilers. We then went on to oversee the construction, testing and bringing on-line of this advanced and highly functional facility. We also put in place the connection between this and the incinerator, and established the necessary cooling systems.

Over the years Vital Energi has supplied nearly 30km of pre-insulated pipework. This network of pipes allows the transfer of hot water from the boiler station to a large number of local properties – including over 800 homes and 100 community centres, schools, churches and commercial buildings. Following on from this, we sourced and installed state-of-the-art, ultrasonic heat meters, which would measure consumption amongst both Domestic and Commercial users. We also put in place an automatic data collection system for collating readings from each user.


Ultimately, the Lerwick District Heating scheme has proven to be a phenomenal success, with demand far exceeding supply. Since the original scheme was installed, Vital Energi’s expertise has secured further contracts on the island and we are continuing to add new connections to the scheme for both residential and commercial customers.


  • CO2 reductions of 7800 tonnes per annum
  • Financial savings of £1.5 milion per annum
  • A sustainable and long term solution for the town
  • Thermal hot water storage reduces reliance on fossil fuels
  • Affordable heating and hot water instantly and on demand