An arts space harnesses dancers’ body heat to power the venue in Scotland

"The energy will then be stored across 12 underground boreholes, before being used to heat or cool our venue later".
Deena Theresa
A Glasgow arts venue has switched on a system that creates renewable energy from the body heat.
A Glasgow arts venue has switched on a system that creates renewable energy from the body heat.

iStock/mediaphotos 

A Glasgow arts venue, SWG3, has implemented a creative idea to tackle the energy crisis. SWG3 has activated a "radical" new thermal heating and cooling system that creates renewable energy from the body heat on its dancefloor reported BBC News.

Called Bodyheat, the new system was three years in the making.

"From club, gig, and exhibition goers, the innovative new system is now active and ready to capture the heat emitted from all of our visitors. The energy will then be stored across 12 underground boreholes, before being used to heat or cool our venue later - whether it be tomorrow, next month, or next year! The system is now activated across the venue in our foyer, the TV Studio, and the Galvanizers," SWG3 wrote on their Facebook page.

SWG3 managing director Andrew Fleming-Brown told BBC News that installing the system had been "a leap of faith" but the venue was committed to achieving "net-zero" carbon emissions by 2025.

Turning the heat up on the dance floor

Dancers' heat is piped through a carrier fluid to 650ft (200m) boreholes that can be charged like a thermal battery. This energy then travels back to the heat pumps and is upgraded to a suitable temperature. It is then emitted back into SWG3.

According to the owners, the system will enable them to disconnect the venue's gas boilers, resulting in a reduction of 70 tonnes of CO2 a year.

David Townsend, the founder of geothermal energy consultancy TownRock Energy, who designed the system, Bodyheat, told BBC News: "When you start dancing, medium pace, to the Rolling Stones or something, you might be generating 250W. But if you've got a big DJ, absolutely slamming basslines and making everyone jump up and down, you could be generating 500-600W of thermal energy."

The thermal heating and cooling system cost just over £600,000 to install.

"To put in perspective, if we were to go down a more conventional route with typical air conditioning, then your costs would probably be about 10 percent of that - so £60,000," Fleming-Brown said.

Depending on costs, the savings on energy bills will make the investment recoverable in about five years.

Saving energy, making Glasgow greener

Dr. Jon Gluyas, geo-energy, carbon capture and storage chair in the Earth sciences department at Durham University, said that the move was a great way to store the energy.

"Heating water requires a lot of energy and it gives up that energy fairly slowly - so when you put that heat into the ground, it's fairly well insulated. Over time, you set up a sort of equilibrium whereby you may only lose a few degrees as it dissipates," he said.

Gluyas stressed that the "key" factor here is energy transformations and heat. "If you can save heat, it means you are making the whole system more efficient. It's carbon-zero and a phenomenally powerful way of overall reducing our demand for energy. If you get it from dancers' body heat then all the better," he added.

Bodyheat has been made possible with support from the Scottish Government: Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme and District Heating Loan Fund (managed by Energy Saving Trust); William Grant Foundation and UK Community Renewal Fund.

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