UK’s low-carbon heat networks receive £40m Government boost

A further seven low-carbon heat networks are to be funded by the UK Government in a £40m initiative.

The project will bring clean heating to around 30,000 homes in London, Leeds, Liverpool and Bristol.


The UK’s heat networks currently serve about 500,000 customers, but this could rise to five million by the middle of the century.

In Bristol, £10.9m will be used to supply 10 office blocks, 4 residential blocks, two hotels and one school in the city centre, while a smaller project in Redcliff will cover the local commercial estate.

Enfield Borough Council will get £14.76m to heat 10,000 homes with waste heat, increasing to 25,000 in the next decade. Veolia South East London will receive £5.5m to build a pipe to connect 3,500 homes with the South East London Combined Heat and Power plant.

Leeds City Council will receive a £2.4m share for infrastructure to deliver heat from the city Centre’s Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility (RERF) to five council buildings.

The remaining £1.3m will go to Peel L&P’s Peel Energy Arm, for its Liverpool Waters project. Earlier this year, office blocks within the project were verified as net-zero carbon against the UK Green Building Council’s (UKGBC) standard, described by Peel L&P as first in the country.

BEIS secretary Andrea Leadsom said that supporting heat networks, or district heating, will play a “crucial role” in the Government’s delivery of its 2050 net-zero target.

“Increasing the number of homes and businesses on heat networks is an important part of the Government’s plans to improve take-up of low-carbon heat as the UK seeks to end its contribution towards climate change entirely by 2050,” BEIS said in a statement.

“Heat networks are one of the most cost-effective ways of reducing carbon emissions from heating, and their efficiency and carbon-saving potential increases as they grow and connect to each other.”

The Department claims that the seven new projects will collectively mitigate 154,300 tonnes of CO2e emissions by 2035, compared to gas boilers.

The £40m pot is from BEIS as part of its £320m Heat Networks Investment Project (HNIP), which opened in 2018 and will close in 2022.

Less than 5% of energy used for heating homes and buildings in the UK currently comes from low-carbon sources. Heating and hot water account for around 15% of the UK’s overall annual carbon footprint, with the nation set to miss a key target of ensuring 12% of heat is generated using renewables by the end of this year.

In the lead-up to the general election in December, Committee on Climate Change chair Lord Deben said Westminster had not “shown the necessary degree of urgency” in light of the UK’s decision to legislate for a 2050 net-zero target. The CCC is calling for 18% of the UK’s heat consumption to be met with district heating by the middle of the century.

“We know that there is a substantial pipeline of projects out there and as such this announcement today will be the first of many,” Triple Point Heat Networks Investment’s project director Ken Hunnisett said.

“We hope it helps to build confidence in the market and that it encourages others to come forward and take advantage of this unique opportunity.”

BEIS has also launched consultations on a host of new protections for heat network customers, including establishing Ofgem as a heat network regulator; mandating heat network operators to regularly report on prices and service; introducing new carbon requirements on new and ex panding heat networks through to 2050; and offering new practical advice to developers.

BEIS claims that these measures, if implemented in full, will “ensure that customers are paying a fair price for their heating and getting good service by bringing the regulation of heat networks into line with other utilities”.

* In 2015, world leaders agreed to 17 goals for a better world by 2030. These goals have the power to end poverty, fight inequality and stop climate change. Guided by the goals, it is now up to all of us, governments, businesses, civil society and the general public to work together to build a better future for everyone. Syntegra’s work is underpinned by many of the goals.

Global Goals 13: Climate Action

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Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning.