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Dutch roads to provide 'free heat' for Zeeland homes

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Glasgow 1999's 'Five Spaces' project, which aims to breathe life into derelict areas, includes work by Page & Park Architects to clean up an area in Gallowgate (near left) which includes several listed buildings. It features a moss garden by landscape architect Mike Hyatt and artist Judy Spark. Meanwhile, Allan Murray Architects is blending hard landscaping at Saracen Cross (far left), an industrial area. The new exhibition runs for four weeks at Glasgow City Chambers. Projects are set for completion in May.

Dutch houses could soon be receiving 'free' heat, using the excess energy generated in blacktop roads. Using technology developed in Sweden by Velta ab, Dutch engineers have transformed the common road into a solar-energy provider by using the latent heat of the black asphalt - a natural absorber of solar power which covers motorways, car parks and airport runways - to provide fossil-free energy to homes, workplaces, shops and leisure centres, as well as extending road life. Calculations show that one kilometre of road can provide heat energy for 100 family houses.

A year-long study of a pumped-water system embedded in a specially constructed road surface along sections of the Haringvliet Locks in Zeeland has excited both the Dutch government and the European construction industry. Zeeland has a climate similar to the uk, with summer highs of 25degreesC which result in road-surface temperatures of 55-60degreesC. Surfaces are cooled from water held in road-side aquifers. In winter, recirculated hot water from ground storage is used to de-ice road surfaces.

The Dutch government plans to use this approach, known as the Winnerway system, on four housing developments with a total of 600,000 homes by 2005. The first agreement is expected to provide the first phase of 8000 houses of Nijmegen's new 'Green' city district with central heating and hot water via heat pump sub-stations. The Energy minister is also considering a massive demonstration project of 200,000m2 of runway at Schipol Airport.

Amsterdam City Council wants to use the technique to heat its Royal Palace when, as part of the nation's Millennium celebrations, the Dam square will be returned to its seventeenth-century glory with an inner-city ice skating rink and heated pavements.

The spin-off effect of the technology is that it reduces road maintenance costs by cutting the summer expansion and winter cracking of asphalted surfaces.

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