DECC asks industry on how best to spend £300m on district heating schemes

Family consumer SSEThe UK government is to invest £320 million over the next five years in schemes across towns and cities in England to take low carbon heat and supply it to keep homes and businesses warm.

The Government is currently consulting on how best to deploy £320 million allocated in the Spending Review for investment in heat networks.

Dubbed ‘central heating for cities’, heat networks are already used widely across Scandinavian cities to keep homes warm in winter. And with potential to reduce heating costs by more than 30% for some households, this investment is exciting news for the country’s towns and cities.

Heat can be taken from a range of sources including large heat pumps, combined heat and power plants and deep geothermal plants, which take heat from underground rocks miles below the surface of the earth.

It is then pumped around homes and businesses which is great for bringing down the cost of energy bills and it also helps to reduce carbon emissions.

For example, Glasgow-based Star Energy Renewables installed a district heat-pump system for the town of Drammen, near Oslo in Norway.

A heat network is like “central heating for cities” – instead of individual heaters in each building, there is a big central heat source (or more than one source) and this is then taken by pipes to a number of buildings, potentially whole districts which can all be linked up.

These central heat sources are often “Combined Heat and Power” plants, which means they are small power stations that also capture the heat produced in electricity generation and use it locally. This new project will be supporting combined heat and power projects, but is also promoting the more innovative use of recovered waste heat sources described above

Without a network, it is impossible to re-use this heat and it simply gets dumped into the atmosphere. In Islington for example, they are expanding their existing heat network at Bunhill so that it can take heat that comes out of the London Underground (Northern line) and put it into their network.

The Dept of Energy (DECC) is now consulting with current and potential heat network sponsors, investors, supply chain, and any other stakeholders with views on how best to use the capital support funding to overcome barriers to investment in heat networks and increase heat network deployment rates.

It seeks views on a range of scheme design issues, including the organisations and types of schemes that should be eligible for investment support, what form this funding should take, and the criteria that should be used to assess applications for funding.

Consultation responses are requested by 3 August 2016.

DECC hopes to launch the first funding round this year. There will then be a series of funding rounds through to early 2021.

See also: Glasgow tenants warmer – and happier – with district heating scheme

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