District Heat Networks have the potential to deliver CO2 emissions reductions and cost benefits using low carbon heat.
AECOM, commissioned by the ETI, has mapped eight innovative solutions that could see a capital cost reduction of up to 40 per cent for heat networks, saving almost £30 billion of investment.
Targeted financial investment to deliver these cost reductions will enable heat networks to be more competitive with alternative pathways to decarbonising heat in existing buildings.
The ETI has released reports from its Heat Infrastructure Development project setting out eight route maps for cost reduction in District Heat Networks (DHN) which if implemented could save the UK up to £30 billion.
The Government’s recently published Clean Growth Strategy has highlighted a desire to build and extend heat networks across the country.
Already successful in Europe, district heat networks supply heat to homes and businesses through pipes carrying hot water. They have the potential to deliver CO2 emissions reductions and cost benefits using low-carbon heat, waste heat from power stations and large-scale heat pump deployment, as well as reducing reliance on imported gas.
The 18 month project, commissioned by the ETI, and led by AECOM in association with Total Flow, assessed the potential cost reduction of the infrastructure and installation needed for district heat networks. The summary report identifies the ways these solutions could be rolled out and offers eight route maps that could deliver capital cost reductions of 30 – 40 per cent.
Currently 56 per cent of GB building heat demand is concentrated within only four per cent of the geographical area, creating a real opportunity for effective heat networks. Each of the eight route maps details the challenges to be addressed, the proposed solutions, development and commercialisation, and a plan of work.
The summary report proposes that the funding needed to deliver the activities within the route maps should comprise a combination of approximately £10m from government and £5m from the District Heat industry, as well as the construction costs of demonstration projects which would also be funded by district heating scheme developers.
Effective heat networks are already deployed in many regions of the world and deliver large quantities of heat, particularly to areas of high demand. However, at present only two per cent of UK buildings are connected to district heat networks, and the high initial capital investment and long timescales for installation are key barriers to the wider-scale deployment of district heat networks.
“Our analysis indicates that close to half of the UK’s existing heat demand could be economically connected to heat networks. We believe that, whilst industry can fund many of the activities required, central government is best placed to support the route maps in areas where commercial investment is unlikely. We welcome the Government’s commitment to building and extending heat networks across the country, both through its Heat Networks Investment Project and as part of its Clean Growth Strategy, and we recommend the route maps developed in this project to achieve greater roll-out, more quickly and at lower cost.
David Ross, Regional Director, Sustainability - Building Engineering, AECOM, said:
“The Heat Infrastructure Development project has enabled us to clearly define eight route maps for cost-effective delivery of low-carbon heat through district heat networks. These innovative solutions have the potential to create significant savings for the UK’s required network investment and present investment opportunities for key stakeholders in the utility industries.
“At a time when decarbonisation is a priority for the UK, this project demonstrates a number of viable options to make the government’s commitment to heat network expansion more cost-effective and help to meet the country’s climate change mitigation goals.”
The Heat Infrastructure Development project was delivered for the ETI by AECOM in association with Total Flow and ENGIE, and with additional contributions from COWI and Loughborough University.