Andy Lyle and Dan Gates celebrate renewable heat acquisition

Locogen is delighted to announce the acquisition of Renewable Energy Engineers Ltd. a specialist renewable heat company based in Glasgow. Renewable Energy Engineers was founded in 2004 and has completed hundreds of projects across a variety of technologies, including air source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps, biomass, district heating and biomass CHP. The acquisition will help to service Locogen’s renewable heat business, which has seen significant growth over the last year.

The Renewable Energy Engineers team will join forces with Locogen’s Energy Services division and will operate out of our new Glasgow city centre offices in Bath Street.

The acquisition comes at a key time for the sector. The UK government has stated its intention to phase out high carbon heat during the 2020s, while the Scottish government has set out more specific targets, including 35% of domestic heat and 70% of non-domestic heat to come from low carbon technologies by 2032. With heat making up 51% of total energy consumption in Scotland, that is a tough challenge indeed.

Renewable Energy Engineers MD, Dan Gates, will join the Locogen team as a Senior Engineer, leading the company’s renewable heat strategy. He brings an unrivalled depth of knowledge in the sector, blending practical experience with a clear strategic vision.

He tells us: “There is no doubt that this is an exciting and challenging time for renewable heat. There are opportunities across technologies and scales, from small domestic air source heat pumps to major district heating projects, bringing the benefits of clean, safe and affordable heating to many communities and businesses. Joining Locogen broadens the scope of our offering and brings increased resources, allowing us to offer our clients a complete solution.”

Locogen MD, Andrew Lyle, added: “We’re delighted to bring Renewable Energy Engineers Ltd. into the Locogen Group. I have known Dan for many years and have a deep respect for his knowledge of the industry. I have no doubt this acquisition will be of major benefit to our clients and help us deliver a first-class portfolio of renewable heat solutions to our clients.”

In the interview below, Dan discusses his passion for renewables and his view of the future of renewable heat

Dan Gates: Profile

How did you get into renewables?

I was always interested in engineering and I’m a keen environmentalist. I started looking for my first jobs in the wind sector in 2004 but ended up hearing about renewable heat and biomass and saw the massive potential for carbon savings and virtually no one working on it.

Tell us a little about your work in renewable heat

Part of the attraction for me is it is such a complex and varied sector. Every day is a ‘school day’ even though it’s been a way of life for over 15 years. I work on some of the biggest industrial schemes for large heat users, mostly with biomass and AD. We are also doing a lot of community energy projects, aggregating heat pumps, which is tremendously rewarding. Additionally, we have a small works / domestic arm for delivery of home-scale renewables.

How do you see the development of the renewable heat market?

For the newbuilds it’s regulated all the way – it’s almost impossible to build now without implementing something renewable and the new SAP/ Building standards will continue this area.

Something that is really changing is the possibility to allow your home or business to self-generate and store energy / demand. We are doing individual off-grid houses that have inter-seasonal stores or community schemes that can have a much-reduced grid impact. Heat pumps have a long history in Scotland – Kelvin did the work on the theory! - and they are ideal for our winter maritime climate. New generation heat pumps are coming on the market next year with another level of efficiency and flow temperatures easily compatible with existing radiator systems etc. It’s a fast-moving sector - even technology from 2-3 years ago seems old now. I have a 7-year-old heat pump and I’m resisting the urge to upgrade this every time a new technology comes out!

Market Drivers

The financial returns are there now for the early adopters and the technology is well proven, so the risk / reward ratio is pretty good. The UK government aspirations for renewable heat are extremely challenging and will mean a lot of activity as we catch up with our potential. In the future this may be more through regulation, either regulating out combustion boilers for air quality reasons or trying to ensure tenant housing stock is fit for purpose, not only affordable energy, but post-Grenfell there are strong drivers for taking gas and LPG out of properties.

Main technologies

There is no one principle technology to fit but a Scandinavian type mix of urban heat networks, like Copenhagen, is starting to come to fruition. It took the Danes around 40-50 years to implement and we are just starting that journey. For social housing we are seeing shared ground loops becoming particularly attractive as the economics are great for the housing association and the residents are benefiting from proper affordable heating. For individual homes we are implementing a lot of heat pumps twinned with storage.

What benefits can renewable heat bring to customers and to the country as a whole?

Heat has always been overlooked for renewable power; however, it tends to be some of the easiest and most cost effective of the renewables to implement in terms of carbon savings. We always prioritise reduction in use and energy efficiency first but after that renewable heat will make a big impact on your building or community. It also tends to be local as heat is generated and used very locally, so it fosters more money for the local economy. It has been a great factor in rural development and creating jobs and that always has been a very rewarding aspect of my work.

Why did you join forces with Locogen and what are your aspirations for the future?

As a company Locogen are very engineering focused and not scared to push the envelope or take on challenging work - even if they could easily do more mundane projects. They are fully focused on integrating multiple technologies and have always been at the cutting edge of project implementation – some of the work being done on peer-to-peer energy networks and distributed energy with storage by my colleagues Andy and Logan Black is really exciting. For the future I really want to see the sector as a whole flourish and Locogen adding its expertise and experience to the market has gone down extremely well. We have an excellent team of younger engineers and it’s great to see such motivated people developing their own career and adding to their experience.

Please contact us if you’d like to discuss your own renewable heat project.