Heat Networks Industry Council set up to spur zero-carbon networks and job growth

Organisations overseeing the UK's heat networks and industry have created a new Council that will oversee plans to drive up to £50bn in investment into the sector to create 35,000 new jobs and deliver zero-carbon heat networks.

Heat accounts for more than a third of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions

Heat accounts for more than a third of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions

The newly launched the Heat Networks Industry Council (HNIC) comprises of heat network operators and energy firms that delivers heat to almost 500,000 UK customers as an alternative from gas-boiler heating.

The Council has set out a new industry plan that will support between £30bn to £50bn of investment in the sector that creates 35,000 new jobs by 2050. The HNIC is also aiming to deliver universal zero-carbon heat networks by 2035 and upskill the supply chain and workforce to enable 18% of UK heat demand to be met through heat networks by 2050.

This would include all major UK cities to have strategic heat network strategies in place by 2030.

Founding members include Siemens, SSE Heat Networks, Veolia, EDF Energy, Energetik, Switch2, EON-UK, Vattenfall, Pinnacle Power, Vital Energi, Engie, Ramboll, Jeremy Bungey sitting as an Independent and Metropolitan. New HNIC members include Guru Systems, Insite Energy, London & Quadrant, Star Renewables, Uniper, Bristol Council, Enviroenergy and Viridor

Commenting on the announcement, Minister for Energy and Clean Growth Kwasi Kwarteng said: “Heat networks will play a vital role in a future net-zero economy by helping to decarbonise how we heat our buildings while creating new green jobs.

“The government’s £270m Green Heat Networks Fund underlines our support for the industry, and we back the new Heat Networks Industry Council to deliver on its ambitions for investment and job creation as part of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.”

Heat accounts for more than a third of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions and remains one of the biggest challenges for the nation to overcome as part of its transition to net-zero emissions by 2050.

While electric heat pumps and biomass boilers are common technologies across the UK’s housing stock and commercial buildings, most of the heat used by buildings and industries derives from fossil fuels. Natural gas – albeit blended somewhat with biomethane – is the “predominant source of heating for the vast majority of customers connected to the grid”, according to the Government’s own reports of the decarbonisation of heat. Around 75% of the UK’s current heating demand in buildings is met by natural gas.

The UK’s net-zero emissions target for 2050 will require every household to replace their heating system with lower carbon alternatives. It is estimated that this will take more than 1,000 years at the current rate, according to a Living Labs study.

HNIC’s chair Dan McGrail said: “The heat networks industry can play a big role in helping the UK reach our net-zero carbon targets. The pandemic has caused a difficult economic situation but, today, our industry is setting out our shared ambition to create investment and jobs, accelerate carbon reduction, deliver consistent and excellent customer experiences and ultimately create smarter, more liveable cities across the country.”

Matt Mace



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