By: Briony Fitzsimons, Principal Consultant CBx; Patrick Elwell, Sustainability Analyst CBx; Emma Bleach, Programme Manager CBx
Today CBx launches the results of an industry-led study into improving the energy performance of existing heat networks, with recommendations for the operators of heat networks and policymakers.
The UK is not on track to meet its 2020 renewables targets. Heat networks have huge potential to contribute towards the UK’s Climate Change goals, as well as helping to address fuel poverty. Considerable Government support has been aimed at encouraging the installation of new networks, with £320m identified for spending through the Heat Networks Delivery Unit (HNDU). However, many existing installations remain dormant or are performing suboptimally, with experiences of poorly-designed systems undermining networks’ reputation for reliable, low carbon, cost-effective and comfortable heat.
The CBx Research on Low Carbon Heat Networks investigates the efficiency barriers around existing heat network operation. With a steering committee comprised of industry leaders including Skanska, Willmott Dixon, Hilson Moran, Catalyst Housing, Buro Happold, Sustainable Homes and a forward by Dr Alan Whitehead, MP, CBx has drawn together the contribution of experts and heat network stakeholders into an evidence-led guide. Recommendations centre around technical, contractual and behavioural changes, with a focus on cost-effective interventions to deliver real performance improvement.
Several policy recommendations to support such interventions have been identified, including:
- prioritising Government funding for local authority schemes that link into existing, oversized networks
- financial support for energy audits of underperforming networks, to identify costeffective modifications
- funding through the Innovate UK programme of the potential for external thermal stores and other types of energy store to buffer oversized systems
- data collected under part 3 of the Heat Networks (Billing and Metering) Regulations (2014) should be made publically available to enable the issue of heat network underperformance to be quantified reliably