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So last week our wait was over and we were able to meet old friends and enjoy the Heat Conference 2013 jointly held by the Combined Heat and Power Association and the Energy Institute.  This was the second year it had been held and I'm sure it'll become a firm fixture. There was a marked focus on the customer to the extent that previously familiar diagrams were turned upside-down or back-to-front or even inside-out to ensure the customer was at the start of our thinking process. As they should always be, of course.

The first session was chaired by the former SSE Chief Executive Ian Marchant and we kicked off with the Chief Executive of the Committee for Climate Change David Kennedy’s and his adroit overview of where we are.  To summarise it's not getting better, although he managed to add a positive spin. 

He was swiftly followed by Louise Strong from Which? who pounded us with a “customer reality check”. If we didn’t know who was the most important person at the start of her presentation, we had no doubt by the end.  Amongst the excellent points made she emphasised that presently customers connected to heat networks are afforded no protection from Ofgem or even the Energy Ombudsman.  I didn’t know that.  Part of her reality check was the results of a consumer survey on trust.  Possibly there was no surprise that at the top of the “Don’t trust” table were the energy companies not so closely followed by the car salesmen.  That’s right car salesmen!  And after five years of being the master villains, banks and financial services now seem to have completed their penance and transformed their relationship with consumers to be verging on warm and cuddly relative to the energy sector.  So when it comes to heat, if you think customers will welcome an organisation they don’t trust, to sell them something they don’t know about and can’t do without then probably you’ve got another think coming.

With most of us suitably chastened the mood of the conference was then lifted by Rt Hon Gregory Barker MP, Minister for Energy and Climate Change who gave an accomplished presentation of the Government’s achievements on Heat.  Yes, it has moved up the agenda.  Yes, there is still much more to do. But the question everyone wanted to know the answer to was what was he going to do about £139m tax hit on  CHP plant.  For reasons I won’t go into but more information is here, CHP plant used to receive a small incentive to reflect its low carbon credentials.  That disappeared a couple of years ago and then with the introduction of the Carbon Price Floor it now finds itself worse off than equivalent electricity only plant which has a much lower efficiency.  This double whammy is having a serious impact on existing CHP plant and future plant is being shelved left, right and centre.  So what was he going to be doing about it?  Well, no answer was forthcoming but the Minister coyly hinted that there might be something in the Autumn statement. 

There then followed a series of questions from audience, one of which the Minister openly stated he didn’t know the answer to. He then asked the audience to be a patient whilst he read the lips of one of his advisers. Well that was honest I thought.

During his presentation the Minister had emphasised the need to take an integrated approach to energy as well as expounding the virtues of Electricity Market Reform.  I couldn’t let him get away with that and so I held up my hand.  Unfortunately the smell of coffee and croissants wafting down the aisle and had an overpowering effect on most of the audience and Ian Marchant sensing the mood, ended the session and my opportunity to ask a question. 

So what was my question? Well if he so strongly supported an integrated approach to energy why is there no reference to heat in the Draft Energy Bill?  In fact, other than the movement of nuclear fuel, transport is not referred to either.  I am sure he would have had a good answer or, if not, he would have read the lips of someone who did.

We then moved into the remaining sessions, all of which were very good but I am just going to focus on three. The first of these was from Alasdair Young from Buro Happold looking at the role for heat networks with a particular focus on London.  The potential is large and there’s a mass of documentation covering studies which are available here.  These include wasted ( I always add the “d”) heat from range of sources including sewers, metro tunnels (London Underground), electricity infrastructure, commercial buildings and so on.  The estimate is that about 75% of London’s heat needs could be met by wasted heat.  That’s about 50 TWh and, on the assumption it displaces gas, about 10 Mt of CO2. Not to be sneezed at I’m sure you’ll agree.

The second presentation was by Marcus Stewart from National Grid. He presented the results of their Future Energy Scenarios (available here) but with the focus on how the UK is to meet the heat challenge.  The process used by National Grid in constructing the scenarios is impressive and involves wide scale consultation and engagement via a number of workshops held across the country. I think most would agree that National Grid has gone out of its way to be inclusive in the development of its scenarios.  But I couldn’t agree with their conclusions on heat as they saw almost no role for district heat networks.  According to National Grid in 2050 heat is delivered predominantly my heat pumps supplemented by some gas and bio energy. But no district heat networks. I need to get to the bottom of this and was pleased that Marcus was happy to discuss their analysis in more detail and so hopefully my questions will be answered soon.

The final session I want to touch on was a presentation from Stewart Reid of SSE on the Northern Isles New Energy Solutions (NINES) project. There’s some information here but in brief, Shetland has no electricity connection with the mainline, has no gas, plenty of wind and relies on an ageing oil fired power station which needs to close.  But they’re not just going to replace it with another.  Instead they are looking at arrange of solutions which include demand side management with “Smart” storage and water heating, extension of the existing district heating system as well as the installation of the largest battery in Great Britain.  Underpinning all of this will be active network management.  I think there could be a lot the mainland could learn from this fascinating project and I will certainly continue to follow it closely.

In the interests of political balance, the conference closed with a key note speech from Jonathan Reynolds MP, Shadow Minister for Climate Change. Recently appointed, I thought he did rather well covering Labour’s approach to heat, energy efficiency as well as displaying faux concern that Greg Barker looked a little bleary eyed.  Was this to do with his statement that he wouldn’t be sleeping if he didn’t have 10,000 signed up to the Green Deal at the end of the year? He probably won’t be sleeping much next year either.  

He spoke about Labour’s price freeze and then spoke briefly about the reforms Labour would make to the energy market, including going back to the Electricity Pool.  I was a little gob smacked by this.  So all the arguments used by the Labour Government back in the late 1990’s to go from the Pool to Neta have been turned on their head to justify going back to the Pool. Perhaps he doesn’t know that it cost about £600 million and took 5 years (see here).  In my opinion it was a waste of time and money then and it would be waste of time and money now.  The one theme that kept being repeated throughout the conference was the need for policy stability.  Read my lips, Shadow Minister, don’t do it.

Conference presentations are available here  and if you have any comments you can Tweet me @rcsansom.  

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In my role as President of the Energy Institute, I chaired the first session of the major annual heat conference that we host in partnership with the CHPA . In my foreword to the conference programme I described heat as the Cinderella of the energy industry, not because electricity and transport are ugly sisters but because heat always gets forgotten or left behind in policy debates. The panel discussion I chaired focused on the consumer view of heat and the representative of Calor Gas made the crucial point that decisions on heat are usually made in a rush. When the central heating boiler breaks down and needs to be replaced we don't have the luxury of time to consider alternative technologies such as heat pumps, we simply want our house and family to be warm again. That isn't helped by our lack of knowledge. Research by Which? showed that most of us haven't heard of the alternative technologies anyway.

Against this background the Climate Change Minister, Greg Barker, then gave a keynote address setting out what Government was doing to stimulate the decarbonisation of heat. He described the three levels at which interventions could be targeted and where decisions are made. They are:

1. The individual household where the choices of solar thermal and heat pumps are available.
2. The local level at which district heating schemes are an option.
3. The national level where greening the gas supply by injecting biogas can be deployed.

I decided to do an unscientific straw poll of the audience; the 'heat choir' if you like, and the result was quite striking. I asked which of the three levels could have the biggest impact on the achievement of the UKs targets and where Government effort should be targeted.  5% opted for the national route;, 15% voted for the individual household but an overwhelming 80% selected the local level. The clarity of the result surprised me and certainly had an impact on the Minister.

I was left wondering whether district heating really was Cinderella's glass slipper! 

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There has been so much activity on the district energy front this year in London that it pays to look over these once again ahead of Heat13.

At the start of year (well - strictly speaking mid-December 2012...), the London Borough of Islington formally inaugurated the Bunhill Heat & Power scheme. An innovative council-led initiative, which brought forward the development of a 2 MW gas-fired Combined Heat and Power (CHP) engine connected to a kilometre of new district heating network, supplying heat to more than 700 local homes and two leisure facilities.  In these times of austerity, this was a bold development by Islington, which is both owned and operated by the council, providing affordable heat and power to local residents as well as generating income by the sale of electricity to the grid. More please!

Around the same time, and a little less than five minutes walk away from the Bunhill site, Hackney Homes inaugurated the Shoreditch Heat Network. This was a major renovation of an old and tired district heating network, involving the addition of a new gas-fired CHP and thermal store. 

Following close to a year's work, the GLA launched a draft of its District Heating Manual for London in February. This is a comprehensive guide to developing district heating in the capital and is a further innovation by London government following the creation of the London Heat Map. Outline planning guidelines for Croydon’s major town centre regeneration were also approved this month, which include plans for a significant area wide district heating network.

March saw the Government set out actions to help deliver low carbon heating as part of its national Heat Strategy, which included the creation of a new Heat Networks Delivery Unit (HNDU). The unit will work with local authorities providing specialist expertise on district energy, emulating in large part what the GLA's own Decentralised Energy Project Delivery Unit (DEPDU) has been doing in London since 2009.

In April press reports emerged of E.ON's involvement in the evolving district energy network around the Greenwich Peninsula. There was also considerable media coverage on the highly innovative ‘fatberg’ CHP system planned to operate out of Beckton gasworks in Newham – which the developers are calling a Combined Heat and Intelligent Power’ (CHiP) plant! 

July saw the publication of a detailed district heating feasibility study for the massive Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea (VNEB) development, which will involve the construction of a significant new district energy network across the site, but will hopefully also re-open the mothballed heat pipeline under the Thames which used to provide heat from Battersea Power Station to the Pimlico District Heating scheme!

Also released in July was a £5.7m tender by Camden for the proposed decentralised energy network, which had previously received planning approval by the council, connecting four residential estates to a major new state of the art medical research facility, all along Euston Road.

Also over the summer, a review by the GLA on the Implementation of the London Plan energy policies indicated that, over the past three years, environmental planning requirements in London have led to the approval of  the connection of 110,000 new dwellings in forthcoming developments to district heating networks, anticipated to be built out over the coming years: 53,000 of those were approved in 2012 alone (the latest figures). 

The GLA published in September a highly innovative study looking at London's secondary heat resource which found that “by using heat pumps to deliver heat at 70°C, the total heat that could be delivered from secondary sources in London is of the order of 71 TWh/yr which is more than the city’s total estimated heat demand of 66 TWh/yr in 2010”.

Further details were announced this month of the imminent launch of  London's first 'energy from waste' district heating scheme using heat from the SELCHP energy from waste plant to nearby estates in Southwark. About time!

In October the Elephant & Castle redevelopment, where district energy will play a huge role in helping bring about what the developers say will be “some of the most sustainable, energy efficient and occupier-friendly places to live in Britain” was recognised by the C40Cities initiative with ‘Climate Positive’ status.

And coming right up to date, and also full circle by returning to colleagues at Islington, last week saw the announcement that the council would be using waste heat from the tube – and heat captured from electrical substations – to be delivered through the Bunhill district energy network to heat hundreds of nearby homes.

In addition to all of the above, details are also emerging of other major district energy schemes being explored in London, which include those on the South Bank, in Wembley, and Lewisham, as well as the Upper Lea Valley and the extension from the Olympic Park district heating scheme. The Mayor's Decentralised Energy programme is supporting many of these projects, and others, which in total are worth close to £70m investment.

It’s great to see that this action being taken forward by local authorities and London government is now being recognised by national government. DECC is finally setting out a strategy for the wider deployment of heat networks, and their recent announcement establishing a £6m heat network fund to provide expertise to local authorities is to be applauded and should be supported by the industry.

There’s clearly a huge amount of activity going on and 2014 will hopefully build on this to further London’s district heating renaissance, helping set the capital on a lower carbon pathway. 


 Syed is the Director of www.energyforlondon.org 

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I grew up before energy efficiency was discovered - or rather it just wasn't necessary.  We had one heated room and that was it. The rest of the house was cold and so were we. Insulation would have been pointless as it was nearly as cold inside as it was outside. In fact it often felt colder.  On a sunny morning it wasn’t unusual for me to open my bedroom window to let the warm(er) air in.

That all changed with Economy 7. Introduced in the 1970s to allow electricity to compete with North Sea gas it offered the prospects of ending winter misery with the installation of a new technology called storage heaters. It was very simple; you put half priced electricity in at night and somehow it came out during the day. I can remember waking up to warm bliss. Wearing my coat indoors was no longer necessary and I could eat my breakfast without gloves. It was great. But arriving home in the evening I was disappointed to find the house cold again. Not as cold as it used to be but not much better. A little later we discovered another drawback: cost. The electricity may have been half priced but it still cost a lot.

Talk to others with experience of storage heaters and you’ll get similar tales and perhaps that is why there isn't much enthusiasm for them. There are still over 6 million storage heaters and I would expect for many they are probably not the best heating solution. But does that mean that storage heaters have no future? I am not so sure.

Modern storage heaters are said to be more efficient and “smarter”. With a decarbonized grid they offer a low carbon heating solution along with demand side management potential, thereby providing a major source of much needed flexibility.   In terms of capital costs, they are a lot lower than alternatives such as heat pumps but also the impact on upstream infrastructure is substantially less as  they can avoid peak demand. Running costs are likely to be higher due to their lower efficiency but for well insulated households with low heat demand they could be an attractive option suitable for large scale deployment.

I’m pleased to see that we have one session in the conference where storage heaters are discussed. Let’s put any prejudices we have aside as we might be surprised with what they can offer.

Robert Sansom is a Researcher at Imperial College London funded by UK Energy Research Centre.

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This week in our #Heat13 blog, Paul Woods from AECOM asks are we getting the best value for money from green subsidies?

If all subsidies were given at the same rate – i.e. a fixed sum per tonne of CO2 saved and for the same period of time then we could reasonably expect that the market would deliver the most cost-effective solutions. But the proliferation of ROcS, FiTs and RHI have left us with a huge range of effective costs to save a tonne of CO2.

A minimum figure of around £100/tonne is seen for onshore wind (and a similar level has been agreed for new nuclear albeit for 35 years) but solar PV is around £200/tonne and heat pumps receive over £400/tonne.

Bizarrely, gas-fired CHP receives nothing except at a domestic scale where there is a relatively high subsidy of £500/tonne (stirling engine type).As gas-fired CHP is the most common supplier of heat for district heating (DH) it is unsurprising that DH still supplies only 2% of our heat market.

So what kind of incentive could work? 

Whilst an incentive for gas-fired CHP would be welcomed it may be better to incentivise DH through a DH Incentive that would make payments retrospectively on an annual basis according to the amount of CO2 saved. This would encourage DH operators to develop lower CO2 forms of heat production and design efficient networks. In return for the DHI they would have an obligation to provide data on their scheme on energy and CO2 emissions which would be made publicly available to aid designers and policy makers.

An RHI set at £100/tonne could be sufficient to convert marginal projects into standalone projects financed by the private sector. However a higher figure could easily be justified when compared to other technologies which compete with DH such as domestic air-source heat pumps. Is there any reason why gas-fired CHP and DH should not receive the same level of incentive as heat pumps?”

Paul is Technical Director of District Energy and Sustainability at AECOM. 

Paul's recent presentation on a district heating incentive can be viewed here


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So at last, we have a decision on nuclear.  There will be some that think this is excellent and others the contrary.  But what does it mean for district heating?  Does it confirm the view that as far as DECC is concerned the future for heating remains an all-electric one with a heat pump in every home?

Well, the problem with current forms of low carbon generation is that they are either inflexible or intermittent and the more we have, the greater the need for flexibility.  Today flexibility is mostly provided by coal and oil plant but with much of this gone by 2020, it will need to come from elsewhere.  We’ll still have our pumped storage and interconnectors and of course there’ll be plenty of CCGTs to prop up the system.  Then there is demand side participation which should have a major role to play. However, its commercialisation into a viable and an attractive option that offers value to customers has some way to go.  To make matters worse heat demand is very peaky with large variations throughout the year and within day.  This is in itself will increase the need for flexibility.

So what can district heating do?  Well firstly it offers huge potential for flexibility. Tanks the size of our old gasometers, a feature of most towns and cities until a few years ago, can store vast quantities of water very cheaply.  With heating provided by very large electric heat pumps, for example, heat load be can be rapidly adjusted to support the system as well as smoothing out variations in heat demand.  Thermal CHP plant can also provide flexibility by varying heat production thereby increasing or reducing electricity production.  And finally, in the future with a well- developed heat network serving a sizeable load, there is no reason why nuclear could not also provide heat as well as electricity, although I doubt it features prominently in EDF Energy’s plans at present!

So is nuclear the end for heat networks?  I don’t think so. It may actually help.


Robert Sansom is a Researcher at Imperial College London funded by UK Energy Research Centre.

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The vast majority of British homes have central heating which comprises a boiler with radiators. This has become the system of choice due to a combination of factors, which include the British climate and our housing stock.

Most new heating systems are distress purchases. Your boiler breaks down so you call someone out to repair it only to find out you need a new one. The priority then is to get it done quickly and for the least money. At this time you are totally dependent upon the trusted expert – the installer – and will normally go with their recommendation. For any policy to succeed it must be deployable through this market model.

If you try to get the consumer to buy something different, from someone different and at a much higher cost then you will struggle to effect any worthwhile change. It has to be easy to do, hassle-free, easy to understand and cost effective.

Calor has seen the impact of successful policy interventions, such as the boiler scrappage scheme and mandating condensing boilers, on energy consumption. In the past 10 years our average central heating customer has reduced their fuel usage by over 20% on a weather adjusted basis. The same has happened to natural gas demand in urban areas and we believe this decline is set to continue.

The priority has to be to maintain this downward trend and the good news is that gas technology still has an enormous amount to offer. For example, two thirds of properties still have older non-condensing boilers and therefore still have significant savings available. We are also seeing a raft of exciting new technologies coming on to the market which will further accelerate the decline in energy consumption and carbon emissions and can be used in off gas grid areas as well. These include Flue Gas Heat Recovery, mCHP (micro combined heat and power) and Gas Absorption Heat Pumps – a renewable gas technology.  Repeatedly, carbon reduction methods have been applied without any sensible cost benefit analysis.

So gas technology still has a way to travel and offers the best value for money for both the bill and tax payer.

Low carbon industrial policy

The UK is the largest gas boiler market in Europe and has a huge domestic industry with sector leading companies based here in Britain employing many thousands of people, plus the more than 100,000 heating installers working in peoples’ homes.

Policies which directly support these established British manufacturing and service industries will have the greatest beneficial impact on the economy at large and have the best chance of success. We saw this at first hand with the boiler scrappage scheme which gave a boost to both British manufacturing and the order books of British installers, plus had the added benefit of substantially reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions.

For a policy to work it needs to work with the market rather than try and buck it!


Paul Blacklock is Head of Strategy and Corporate Affairs for Calor Gas Ltd

Since 1935 Calor has supplied LPG to homes and businesses to some of the most remote parts of the country.

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As large energy suppliers announce household gas prices will go up by around 8%, just days after Ed Miliband’s price freeze promise, it is questionable as to whether regulated competition adequately protects customers and delivers value for money.

 A small but growing number of customers have their heat demand met by suppliers not covered by the gas or electricity regulations, with no role for Ofgem or the Energy Ombudsman in customer protection. In the UK, 97% of householders currently heat their homes and water through individual gas boilers, but around 2% of demand, is now served by heat networks. Heat networks (also called district heating) deliver heat from a local energy centre through a system of insulated pipes to homes and businesses. With radiators and thermostats heat network customers have the same experience as they would have with an individual solution, but with the advantage of not needing to purchase, maintain or insure a gas boiler or electric heaters. 

Recent estimates forecast investment in heat networks of about £500m in the coming years, which could mean that 14% of heating and hot water needs will be met by heat networks by 2030. This investment is likely to attract new suppliers and it is therefore a useful point at which to consider how to ensure that heat customers, who cannot switch suppliers, will receive appropriate standards of service and protection. With a one-in one-out approach to regulation established by this Government’s red tape challenge, is there an alternative to statutory protection for heat customers?

The district heating industry has been working with consumer representatives since 2012 and has drawn up proposals for a form of self-regulation. The Independent Heat Customer Protection Scheme proposals, launched for consultation last week, set out quality standards that suppliers must attain across all aspects of their domestic and micro-business heat supply agreements and supports this with proposals for an independent adjudication service; dispute resolution at no cost to the customer.

Price and price transparency are key concerns for all energy consumers. Under the Independent Heat Customer Protection Scheme proposals suppliers must provide customers with transparent heat charge calculations, indicate how prices might change in the future and provide an industry-wide heat charge comparator. The comparator would illustrate, for the heat network customer’s demand, what their costs would have been if they had a gas boiler or electric storage heater. The proposals also specify that suppliers must have alternative arrangements in place to ensure that customers continue to receive heat in the event that the supplier fails.

The consultation seeks views on whether these heat customer protection proposals are appropriate for a fledgling industry and whether they go far enough in terms of customer protection. Will the proposals help reduce perceived risks in the minds of heat network investors, thereby reducing the cost of capital? And will this, in turn, help to secure affordable heat for future network customers, putting consumers at the heart of the energy system, and delivering a better deal than state regulated electricity and gas markets?

Join us at Heat 2013 to have your say or submit your views through the consultation; open until 29 November. 


Nicola is the Policy and Development Manager at the Combined Heat and Power Association. The CHPA convenes meetings and provides secretariat to the Independent Heat Customer Protection Scheme. 

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I spotted in the news yesterday that Glasgow’s subway system (affectionately known by Glaswegians as ‘Clockwork Orange’ for the fetching colour of its trains) plans to install water-source heat pumps to capture the heat from the water leaking into the tunnels, and then heat the subway stations and nearby buildings.

This is a great example of the low-cost, low-carbon heat opportunities that exist all around us. A detailed University of Southampton study found 5% of UK heat demand could be met from power stations’ wasted energy, while across Europe industrial sites could provide enough waste heat to meet 80% of total UK heat demand.

Subways, industrial sites, power stations, all of these have heat available to share, and yet to date we have done a remarkably poor job in taking advantage of the opportunity.

In an integrated energy system, waste heat could be supplied to a community heat network for local homes, public and commercial buildings at low cost and zero carbon. So if this is such a good opportunity, and there is so much waste heat available, why are we not doing more of it?

The challenge is linking and coordinating heat with local demand. Because transporting heat over long distances is so difficult, heat generation and demand have to be sited close to one another. Industrial sites and power stations are historically located far away from household and commercial heat demand. Counter-intuitively, the Environment Agency’s requirement that  power stations must recover their heat when cost-effective can incentivise them to site far away from local heat demands.

Even when a waste heat resource is located near the demand, it is difficult for us to change our normal way of doing things. Recovering waste heat requires partnerships which do not naturally or currently exist between industry, local authorities, and housing developers. I have heard of cases where housing developers installed individual gas boilers rather than access available nearly-free waste heat from a local industrial site because it appeared the less commercially risky solution.

It is through local leaders linking opportunities that we can begin to draw together our waste heat resource with our heat needs. When local leaders become a driving force, then the results can be very positive.

It was London’s Southwark Council which led on an agreement with Veolia Environmental Services to use the heat from the local energy from waste plant in a £7 million heat network for five local estates. And Islington Council could source the heat for its planned expansion of its Bunhill heat network  from a London Underground tube tunnel vent. In Stoke, the council wants to heat its city centre using heat from the local ceramic sector together with geothermal water from disused mines.

That is not to say there is not a role for the UK government. DECC announced in the recent Heat Strategy that it is assessing the technical and economic potential for the use of waste heat, and when the Renewable Heat Incentive is reviewed in 2014 there could be support waste heat recovery. The UK’s Heat Map will also be important to link heat opportunities. Incentives for heat generation and demand users to cluster would give industry and businesses access to lower energy costs, but the Government recognises the positive benefits of clustering , there are no policies to help bring it about.

Capturing heat in the Glasgow subway system is a good start, but the journey to access the UK’s supply of zero carbon, low cost waste heat is just getting moving. 

Jonathan Graham is the Policy Manager at the Combined Heat and Power Association.

Join us in our Delivering Growth : The Power of Partnership session at Heat 2013 to discuss the points raised in Jonathan's article and see how industry, local government, and householders can collaborate to capture the waste heat opportunity.

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The gaps in our renewable heat infrastructure are known but we are not sure whether we have a solution for them.

One gap is how to make use of the large amounts of untapped heat produced from water treatment plants, heat from the air, or heat from the ground to keep us comfortable in our homes and workplaces.

According to the recent Greater London Authority study, in 2010 the ‘...total amount of heat available in London from secondary sources is equivalent to...76% of London’s total heat demand’. Over 60% of the heat delivered from these secondary sources could be achieved by using ground source and air source heat pumps, and the heat collected from water treatment plants.

The heat pump industry in this country is, understandably, largely focused on installing systems into social housing projects where the carbon reduction requirements and the need to help tenants stay out of fuel poverty are driving the business.

Outside of social housing, the challenge for heat pump manufacturers is to educate an army of installers in how to correctly install heat pumps into homes. The test for the UK government, if they are to meet their carbon emissions targets, is to provide a good enough incentive to the 26 million households to invest in having energy efficient technology installed.

Our continental neighbours, meanwhile, have been much more ambitious with their heat pump projects to keep their citizens comfortable. In Switzerland, 75% of new-build family homes have a heat pump installed.

Motivating UK householders to install heat pumps is a big challenge, but using heat pumps in district heating schemes is another approach which the country has been slow to adopt.

District heating schemes using heat pumps are common in Denmark. But, in Drammen, Norway, they have taken network heating a step further. 6,000 households are being heated by extracting heat from a nearby fjord using heat pump technology developed by Glasgow-based Company, Star Refrigeration.

The combination of rising fossil fuel prices, the need for investment in infrastructure in the UK to boost the UK economy, and our basic need to keep warm offers an opportunity to rethink how we use the abundant heat in our existing environment to provide us with comfort in our homes.

By thinking ambitiously about how we can use heat pumps in the UK, householders will have more comfort for less money and the economy will get a long term boost by delivering renewable heat.

Join us in our power of integration session at Heat 2013 to discuss the points raised in Will's article and see how heat pumps can play a bigger role in an integrated energy system.  

Will Hawkins is the Online Editor of Heat Pumps Today, and writes about the developments in the burgeoning UK heat pumps industry and the challenges it faces as it moves into the mainstream of renewable energy technology. Particular topics of interest are district heating and community energy projects. 

Heat Pumps Today is the UKs only magazine focused on the heat pump industry in the UK. Published quarterly and online daily, the Heat Pumps Today helps installers, contractors and specifiers keep up to date with latest technology, news, legislation and industry matters.

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Last month’s appointment of Stephen Brooks as Investment Director of the Department for Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) new Heat Network Delivery Unit (HNDU) marks an important step towards tackling the challenges that face local authorities and developers seeking to develop district heating networks.

Brook’s appointment comes on the back of DECC’s strategy paper on heat, which identified heat networks as a cost effective solution to providing affordable, low carbon heat in urban areas. Heat networks (also called district heating) take hot water from a local ‘energy centre’ through a network of insulated pipes to homes and businesses. Heat networks are usually more efficient compared to many smaller heat units in each building.

The new unit is designed to support local authorities assessing the opportunity for heat networks by providing funding and expertise in the feasibility stages to bring potential projects to a stage of credible commercial development.   

Following the success of pioneering schemes such as Brook’s own Sheffield Heat and Power (he was a founding member) interest around the country is high, with many councils looking to heat networks to help vulnerable householders afford to keep warm whilst reducing emissions.

Having worked on numerous district heating projects during his time as managing director at Ignus Renewable, Brooks is well placed to help councils deliver local energy projects and move towards the potential of up to 20% of the UK’s homes connecting to heat networks.     

But with just 2 years to allocate the £6 million fund, the biggest challenge his team will face is delivering real results quickly. The first round of bidding is already open and it is now over to Brooks and his team to demonstrate the enormous potential that continued investment in heat networks could deliver.

To hear how HNDU will turn the Government’s heat policy strategy in to shovel ready projects, join us and Stephen Brooks at Heat 2013.

Claire Wych is the Communications Officer for the Combined Heat and Power Association. 



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The British public is increasingly concerned about the cost of heating their home this winter.

A survey commissioned by the BBC showed that 38% of people are worrying about how they will pay for their heating bills this year, with 25% saying that they had endured ‘unacceptably cold’ homes due to rising heating bills in the past year. 

Which? Consumer Tracker recorded that worries about energy bills topped the polls again this month, with 79% expressing their concern.  

Whilst consumer concern about how our energy system can keep heating costs affordable is growing, the centre of the debate continues in the opposite direction with a focus on the electricity market and the regulator. Just last week, MPs in the House of Commons debated the increases in the average household energy bill and the financial challenges for consumers, but the vast majority of discussion focussed on electricity which accounts for about a quarter of a typical household's energy needs.

The debate among MPs saw little discussion regarding heat and how consumers' needs will be met in a low carbon energy future.

With half of the UK's energy use coming from heat, debate on this issue must become front and centre.

Heat 2013 provides the opportunity to explore these questions and give space to the heat debate. In the first session of the conference we’ll be considering the consumer’s perspective. Is improving switching between suppliers sufficient to deliver affordable heat for consumers, or do we need to do more to address the worries they are currently expressing?

And, against a backdrop of rising concern about how we can access to affordable heat, can we create consumer demand for a transition to low-carbon heat supply?

We hope you will join us at Heat 2013 to debate, learn and inform.

Tim Rotheray is the Director of the Combined Heat and Power Association, read his biography here

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The UK’s only heat-specific energy conference

Accounting for half of UK energy demand, affordable heat is vital for industry and householders alike. Heat is too often the Cinderella of the energy debate, but its central role makes it a key consideration if we are to meet our decarbonisation commitments.

Now is its second year, Heat 2013 has been established as the place to debate and explore all aspects of heat.

Organised by the Energy Institute and CHPA, Heat 2013 will bring together, Government policy makers and industry leaders from DECC, National Grid, the Green Investment Bank, Mitsubishi Electric and E.ON, These thought leaders, will explore how we can deliver on the potential for affordable, low carbon heat set out in the Government’s 2013 Heat Strategy.

Join us on Wednesday 27th November as we consider four major themes:

  • How do we put consumers at the centre of the low carbon heat transformation?
  • How can we ensure affordable heat for industry, businesses and householders?
  • How can we achieve vital heat infrastructure investment? What do investors need?
  • What benefits are available by bringing local and central government, industry and householders together in partnerships?

Come, debate, learn and inform. Book your tickets here

Join the conversation on Twitter:  @CHPA_UK  @EnergyInstitute   #Heat13


Claire Wych is the Communications Officer for the Combined Heat and Power Association. 

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