Davey drives heat network uptake with £3m extra funding

The UK Government has increased its support of renewable heat networks by awarding an extra £3m of funding to local authorities to set up heat networks across England and Wales.

The funding, announced this week by Energy Secretary Ed Davey, will support 74 low-carbon heat projects in 55 local authorities designed to heat homes and businesses by renewable, sustainable or recoverable energy sources.

The projects are designed to provide more efficient heat to buildings and potentially lower heating bills in local areas while helping to cut carbon emissions, tackle fuel poverty and boost local jobs.

The Government will be offering grants ranging from £16,000 to £263,000 to individual projects.

Transform community heating

“Using wasted heat to warm our buildings is a cost effective way to cut carbon and slash energy bills,” Davey said. “This money will help transform the way communities heat their buildings, schools and homes – as well as show how people and councils can work together to boost jobs and investment in their local area.”

Heat networks are designed to provide heat to clusters of buildings through a system of insulated pipes carrying hot water distributed from a central location. Heat sources include rivers or mine water, biomass, energy from waste or recovered heat.

This is the fourth group of successful bidders to be announced as part of the government’s drive to scale-up the reach of low-carbon heat through local networks. The Heat Network Delivery Unit was set up in 2013 to support local authorities exploring heat network opportunities.

The 74 new heat networks will bring the total number of heat network projects benefitting from government grants to 180.

Role for local authorities

Government estimates show that around 15% of UK heat demand could be cost effectively met by heat networks by 2030, and over 40% by 2050.

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Baroness Verma said: “Low-carbon heat generation is on the rise in the UK and local authorities have an important role to play in maintaining this growth and driving forward innovation and progress in the heat industry.”

Missing targets

Figures released by the Government in February show that Government incentives for renewable heat are working. The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) has subsidised more than 6,000 renewable heat installations in UK homes since opening in April 2014.

The Renewable Energy Association said the figures “show that there is huge demand for affordable and low-carbon heating in UK households.”

However, in January Energy Secretary Ed Davey admitted that the UK is in danger of missing renewable heat and renewable transport targets for 2020. The UK has set itself targets of sourcing 12% of heat from renewables.

Combined heat & power at Sustainability Live 2015

The merits of using combined heat and power (CHP) will be discussed in detail at Sustainability Live 2015 in April. A session within at Energy Efficiency Theatre 2 will explore the business case and practicalities of CHP implementation with examples of how energy users taken advantage of the technology to reduce their energy costs and carbon emissions.

Register to attend Sustainability Live 2015 for FREE here.

Lucinda Dann

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