Machinery part of the SHEAP district heating scheme

Shetland Heat Energy & Power Ltd

Heating a community, fighting fuel poverty and saving the planet.

Over 20 years of tried and tested low carbon district heating

Shetland Heat Energy & Power Ltd (SHEAP) is one of the largest and longest running district heat networks in operation in Scotland. The scheme uses hot water created from un-recyclable waste to heat approximately 1,215 domestic properties and commercial and public buildings around Lerwick including schools, care homes, the leisure centre and the Gilbert Bain Hospital.

The Energy Recovery Plant burns domestic and commercial waste from Shetland and Orkney which would otherwise be sent to landfill.  The hot water produced is pumped to the Peak Load Boiler Station (PLBS).  This is then pumped around Lerwick through 45kms of underground, insulated pipes into properties through a heat exchanger - meeting all heating and hot water needs while providing a clean, green, sustainable source of heating and hot water.


Thomas and Keiko the cat share SHEAP's story

Shetland's investment in a district heating system was ahead of its time and has delivered impacts that remain a top priority for today's society.  It offers 20 years of experience in a model which has reduced Shetland's carbon footprint, and at the same time provided direct benefits to the local community.

In this wonderfully warm and engaging film, local film-makers JJ Jamieson and Liz Musser have found the perfect young Shetlander Thomas, who shares clear and important messages about how we must rethink our opportunities to do the right things for our communities, and for the Planet.  

JJ commented: "They say never to work with children and animals, but Thomas and Keiko the cat, who makes a guest appearance thanks to another local youngster Jack Bryan, were fantastic. Thomas was really enthusiastic about sharing the story, he's our very own young community and environmental champion."

District heating can go a long way to helping with the decarbonisation of Scotland’s energy provision. We’re keen to remain at the forefront of this, increasing efficiency and playing our part in helping Scotland reduce emissions."
Derek Leask, Executive Director, SHEAP

How it works

Shetland Islands Council and Shetland Charitable Trust, working with the Lerwick community, invested millions to create the pioneering integrated waste system and district heating scheme. This film created by SEPA in 2006 gives an historic overview of the process, and the environmental, economic and social benefits to the community.

Social and environmental purpose are at the heart of what SHEAP does.  As a subsidiary company of Shetland Charitable Trust, SHEAP’s profits are also returned to SCT, strengthening its ability to assist a wide range of charitable activities all throughout the islands.

Find out more about the model and how SHEAP continues to innovate in Executive Director Derek Leask's blog.

The SHEAP model and delivery

Cope Shetland

Lashings of hot water and heating helps Shetland Cope

One of SHEAP's customers is the fantastic COPE Ltd. It's a social enterprise and charity which provides employment and skills development for adults with learning disabilities or autism spectrum disorders.

COPE Ltd provides a wide range of goods and services to individuals, local authorities and private businesses. All profits or surpluses are reinvested back into the company.

Cope's Business Manager Sarah Jackson said: "At the Shetland Soap Company lashings of constant hot water on tap are essential for our production of handmade soap.... there's lots of washing up! Out at Shetland Home Co, the yard door is open for donations most days, so keeping the shop warm and cosy all day is a must. 

"Shetland Kitchen Company have very high hygiene standards to sustain, so constant hot water is vital there. Muddy hands at Shetland Garden Co are always happy for soapy warm water on tap too. We would be lost without this collaboration with SHEAP."

Interest in the SHEAP district heating model

Shetland's experience in delivering district heating is valuable in a Scotland with ambitious targets for decarbonisation and net zero. Find out more about the scheme, its achievements and ambitions here.

Where to now?

If the SHEAP story has inspired you, find out how we can help you in the Highlands and Islands.

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West Harris Trust

The West Harris Trust were the first community company to purchase its crofting estate from the Scottish Government in 2010. Read more about their journey here.


Soirbheas, a registered charity, work to strengthen and support the communities of Glen Urquhart and Strathglass, through revenues from local renewable energy schemes.

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