Can brownfield land be reused for ground source heating to alleviate fuel poverty?

Ross Donaldson, Richard Lord

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
52 Downloads (Pure)


Brownfield land is a legacy of industrial retraction in many towns and cities worldwide, where land can remain vacant long after it has gone into disuse. The presence of derelict or vacant land is often seen as a barrier to redevelopment. Using this land for renewable energy generation is one option that can support development of a low carbon economy as well as stimulate regeneration. Fuel poverty, defined as high energy costs relative to end user income, is an increasingly pertinent social issue due to rising renewable energy costs. This is particularly true for space heating, since this accounts for nearly half of all the energy consumed in N European climates like the UK’s, so addressing fuel poverty has become a key consideration in Scotland’s internationally leading renewables policy. This article considers how deployment of renewables on brownfield land can be targeted towards addressing heat poverty in social housing. Using Glasgow as a case study, the quantity of available derelict land is first calculated, then the spatial association of social housing and urban brownfield land is demonstrated. Technology options for meeting the requirements of heat-poor households from brownfield land are presented, including scenarios using vertical or horizontal ground source heat pump arrays. The results suggest that the available urban land could easily supply the needs of all households in fuel poverty, if this scale of investment and nonmarket intervention was justified.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-355
Number of pages12
JournalRenewable Energy
Issue numberA
Early online date15 Sep 2017
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2018


  • fuel poverty
  • brownfield land
  • ground source heat pumps
  • social housing
  • geothermal


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  • Meeting with Andy Wightman MSP

    Richard Lord (Contributor), Brian Garvey (Contributor), Ciaran McDonald (Recipient), Robin McAlpine (Participant), Andy Wightman (Recipient) & Joanne Macfarlane (Contributor)

    27 Jan 2017

    Activity: Other activity typesTypes of Public engagement and outreach - Media article or participation

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