Heat networks

What is a heat network?

A heat network is a general term to describe both community and district heating networks. They take heat from a central source and distribute it to buildings and apartments within their network.

Taking advantage of large scale energy generation and renewable energy sources, heat networks are an incredibly powerful, and increasingly necessary, way of cutting carbon emissions and heating bills for businesses and communities.

Heat networks in the UK

There are currently over 17,000 heat networks in the UK, connecting nearly 492,000 buildings, homes and retail outlets.

Whilst heat networks are used in just over 2% of the UK’s heat demand, the requirement of Government backed schemes to increase their use and cut the country’s carbon emissions has seen their popularity rise substantially. By 2030 it is expected heat networks will be used to fulfil 14% of the country’s heat demand and, by 2050, 43%.

What are the benefits of heat networks?

The benefits of a heat network can be substantial. For example, the Governments Community Energy Programme claims energy savings from a typical community heating scheme are typically 25% compared to individual gas boilers and up to 50% when compared to electric heating.

*This offers clear benefits to local authorities, housing associations and their customers however, costs are only one of the benefits associated with heat networks that include;

Improved energy efficiency: Combined heat and power helps to reduce energy costs

Enhanced environmental protection: Renewable fuels such as biomass increase the carbon reductions

Fuel flexibility: Fuels can be used that are not plausible options in individual domestic heating

Ease of operation and maintenance: Operational risk to the energy supplier who is contracted to deliver heat or cooling to the consumer’s buildings

Reliability: Systems can be monitored around the clock and can include backup systems

Comfort and convenience: Constant flows of heat and hot water readily available

Reduced costs: No boilers are required in a consumers property meaning no parts, labour and insurance required to cover them

Increased functional space on-site

Types of heat networks

There are two typical types of heat network, Community and District. A community heating scheme generally services a singular site such as a block of residential apartments. District heating schemes on the other hand distribute heat from one central plant to multiple buildings and sites within the network.

In either case, a heat network can be supplied heat from the following energy sources;

  • Gas-fired CHPs
  • Power stations
  • Energy from waste
  • Industrial processes
  • Biomass and gas fuelled boilers and CHP plants
  • Fuel cells
  • Heat pumps
  • Geothermal sources
  • Electric boilers and even solar thermal arrays

For information regarding the April 2017 regulation updates download the guide below or check out our heat network regulations article here.

Heat Network Regulations Guide

At Switch 2 we have worked on thousands of heat network schemes, helping our customers understand, plan and implement heating schemes of the highest standards throughout the UK.

If you need further assistance with how the heat network regulations affect you and how they work read our latest guide or contact us and we’ll give you all the relevant information you need.

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