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First map of district heating schemes shows more than a third are green

The first ever UK map of district heating schemes has identified more than 200 heat networks across the country and found that almost 40 per cent of them use renewable fuels.

The Combined Heat and Power Association (CHPA) published the map yesterday, saying it demonstrated how heating and cooling networks have a big part to play in helping to cut UK carbon emissions and people’s energy bills. It said its map would aid the Government, local councils and developers to rollout further heating infrastructure by identifying what was already in place.

The map shows there are already over 200 heat networks operating in the UK and that a further 70 are in development. Over 53,000 homes currently have their heat supplied by district heating and that figure is expected to almost double over the next five years, according to CHPA.

The data also shows domestic energy bills are reduced by an average of 18 per cent and 38 per cent of district heating schemes burn renewable fuels, such as biomass, biogas or municipal waste. As many as 20 per cent of district heating schemes also provide district cooling, thereby doing away with electric air conditioning.

The Government’s heat strategy, published in March, has called for an expansion of heat networks across the UK because Ministers believe they could be the least costly and most efficient way to connect buildings, communities or industrial sites to greener sources of energy.

Heat accounts for a third of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions because most of it is produced by the burning of fossil fuels. Around £33 billion will be spent on heating and cooling our homes and offices, providing hot water, cooking food, and manufacturing goods this year, according to the Government.

According to Government figures, the number of buildings and industrial installations supplied by heating networks currently comprise less than two per cent of UK’s total heat supply, but the CHPA data suggests that figure could be more.

Heat networks are particularly well suited in densely populated areas and the CHPA data suggests the average residential and commercial scheme has over 650 dwellings and that 31,000 metres square of non-domestic floor area connected.

One of the largest district heating networks in the UK is in Nottingham and serves more than 4,600 homes and over 100 businesses and public sector properties – roughly 3.5 per cent of the city’s entire heat consumption.

The largest residential scheme, though, is being planned in the Nine Elms development in Vauxhall, London, which will have over 16,000 homes connected.

Alongside its heat strategy, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has produced a national heat map to help councils and developers identify areas of demand for heat.

It is expected to publish specific policy proposals on heat within the next 10 months.

Full details can be found on the Green Wise website

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