Government awards £24m for district heating projects

The Government has today (7 April) awarded £24m for nine district heat network infrastructure projects across the country to provide households and businesses with clean and efficient heating systems.

The funding represents the first round of £320m funding for heat networks, which figures suggest could reduce heating costs by more than 30%.

The winning projects, located in towns and cities such as London, Sheffield and Manchester, will deliver low-carbon heat through technologies such as biomass boilers, heat pumps, energy-from-waste and combined heat and power (CHP) plants. A further £200,000 will be provided in early stage funding for four authorities to develop their plans.

The investment was announced by Climate Change and Industry Minister Nick Hurd, who said: “This Government is committed to ensuring a clean, secure and affordable energy supply for communities and businesses across the country.

“Energy innovations like heat networks can cut costs for households and reduce carbon emissions, as almost half of the energy we use goes towards heating our homes and buildings. The £24m in government funding awarded to these projects will help deliver low carbon energy at competitive prices for local consumers.”

Economy boost

Heat networks could deliver up to 18% of UK heating demand by 2030, up from current levels of 2% today, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has claimed. The project – expected to enable up to 200 heat networks to be built – will run until 2021 and is hoped by ministers to unlock up to £2bn in new heat network infrastructure investments across the country.

The announcement follows the launch of a new multi-stakeholder task force by the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE), which aims to deliver a subsidy-free heat network market with strong protections for consumers.

Commenting on today’s news, ADE Director Dr Tim Rotheray said: “This investment in heat networks will bring considerable benefits for local authorities and their communities, boosting the local economy through the creation of skilled jobs and infrastructure investment while giving householders and business access to future-proof low carbon, affordable heat.”

The recent confirmation of Government financial support for heating networks arrived at the same time as a report highlighted that Ministers acknowledge the need for a “transitional period” to be put in place for changes to the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) for CHP plants. It is hoped these announcements will begin to restore investor confidence in the neglected sector.

The 2009 EU Renewable Energy Directive sets a mandatory target for the UK to achieve 15% of its energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020. However, research from the CCC has discovered that the UK is not even halfway towards achieving the target of 12% of energy needs for heat generation coming from renewable sources.

The nine winning projects in the heat network pilot include:

  • Sheffield District Energy Network development – Energy from waste plant
  • Somers Town (Phase 2), Camden – Gas Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant
  • Manchester Civic Quarter Heat Network – Gas Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant
  • Colchester Northern Gateway – Heat pump
  • Wood Street South, Waltham Forest, London – Gas Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant
  • Becontree, Barking & Dagenham – Gas Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant
  • Church Street District Heating Scheme, Westminster – Gas Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant
  • Crawley Town Centre Heat Network – Biomass boiler and Gas Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant
  • St Johns Heat Network, Manchester – Gas Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant


George Ogleby

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