Heat networks have huge potential to help address fuel poverty and contribute towards the UK’s Climate Change targets. As such, they have received considerable Government support in recent years, mainly aimed at encouraging the installation of new networks through the Heat Networks Delivery Unit (HNDU). However, many existing installations remain dormant or are performing suboptimally, with experiences of antiquated or poorly-designed systems undermining networks’ reputation for reliable, low carbon, cost-effective and comfortable heat.
The Energy and Climate Change Committee (2016) has also stated that the UK is not yet halfway towards its 2020 targets of achieving 12% heat from renewable energy, and this is unlikely to be achieved through the installation of new system alone. Greater focus on existing heat networks is required in order enable operation and increase optimisation.
The reason is less about the technology, but instead a combination of issues including but not limited to; poor sizing, installation, commissioning and FMs inadequate understanding of the technology. These issues cut across the industry, leaving the end-user struggling with new kit and the technology receiving a bad reputation.
A significant level of work has been performed by professions to understand these issues on individual projects. However, learning outcomes have remained within their technical silos and not transferred across the various actors involved in delivering an effective heating system.
The output will be an evidence-based user guide for clients and the project team on a number of key themes:
- Highlight examples of good practice where a heat network has been implemented successfully and running at its best efficiency.
- Identify cases where heat networks had been poorly implemented and subsequently fixed to offer best performance.
- Research into the technical manuals and code of practice to recognise the minimum standards for heat networks
- Quantify the level of energy efficiency and costs from current operations to support better design and sizing of technologies
- Understand skills and education pointers to recruit the right contractors
- Develop a user guide to help identify the drivers for technical silos and instigate the correct methodology to enable delivery.
The heat network research will kick off in the fourth quarter of 2015 and will run for 12 months. Focal areas for research will look at ten case studies of good heat networks including:
- District heating
- Communal heating
- Domestic and non-domestic
Members will attend a kick off meeting and then one meeting every quarter after that. Meetings with individuals will be necessary to talk specifically about data and to perform an assessment on case study low carbon heating technology.
REPORT: How to optimise an existing system for improving performance
The CBx Research on Low Carbon Heat Networks investigates the barriers around existing heat network operation. Over the course of a year, CBx and the steering committee have provide case studies and held discussion with expert designers, developers, engineers, government, housing associations, and legal advisers, to provide an evidence base of current existing networks. Coupled with knowledge from existing industry research and standards, CBx has developed an evidence led guide to enable operation and optimisation of heat networks to achieve better performance. Please click the image below to access the final report.
Hear from our Steering Committee:
“This research is vital for those who are struggling with existing decentralised energy systems. Those who commission, install, manage and maintain these systems need to start getting it right otherwise low carbon technology like combined heat and power will become unpopular and unused. The more information that is out there the better and this research provides some critical insight into not making the same mistakes again. This research will also be very timely and insightful for our SHIFT accredited landlords and our wider network”Bevan Jones, Managing Director, Sustainable Homes
“We strongly believe low carbon heat networks have a vital role to play in helping to address fuel poverty and contribute to the UK’s climate change targets. At Hilson Moran we’re dedicated to keeping the practice at the forefront of sustainability legislation and assessment techniques, and as such are thrilled to partner with CBx on this research project”Dan Jestico, Head of Research & Development, Hilson Moran
“District Heating Networks have the potential to deliver long term, low carbon and cost effective heat to a wide range of end users throughout the UK, but the performance of existing systems is often found to fall short of expectations. Willmott Dixon Energy Services are continually developing the detailed design, installation, and operational processes required to deliver high performance heat networks and ensure energy and cost savings, and comfort and satisfaction for users and operators. The work conducted by CBx aligns well with our experience and highlights some key action areas for the industry to close the performance gap on new and existing systems. This is critical to ensure the long term viability and success of heat networks, now and in the future.”Dr Zachary Gill, Senior Energy Solutions Engineer, Willmott Dixon Energy Services
“Catalyst is committed to providing low carbon and affordable heat to our residents and we understand the importance of integrating district and communal heating schemes into our new schemes to achieve this. CBxchange have produced this valuable and timely piece of research that will help Catalyst - and no doubt many other social landlords, local authorities and private developers - to better understand the complexities and issues facing the design, installation and maintenance of district and communal heating. Consequently, this report provides a valuable tool in supporting our quest to reduce carbon emissions and provide warm, affordable homes.”Julia Moulder, Executive Director of Property, Catalyst Housing Limited
ECC. (2016). The 2020 targets. Retrieved from http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmenergy/173/17305.htm