The difference between district and community heating
True district heating is the distribution of heat from large scale generation and waste heat sources around large areas, usually within cities, connecting community heating schemes together.
Community heating on the other hand is a centralised heating system that supplies heat and hot water to one building block with more than one heat customer.
Typical district heating energy sources
Since district heat networks can provide heat to large cities and towns or small sites containing only a few buildings the source of the heating can be equally diverse.
The energy production for a district heating network can be supplied by a range of systems from power stations to gas-fired CHP units. Each have their own advantages and disadvantages.
Combined heat and power (CHP) technology, sometimes referred to as cogeneration, is considered one of the more efficient energy sources for district heating schemes.
Typical central energy sources;
- Power stations
- EfW (energy from waste)
- Gas fired combined heat and power units
- Biomass combined heat and power
- Industrial heat pumps
- Solar/geothermal sources
What are the benefits of district heat networks?
The primary benefits of district heating are threefold. Lower energy costs, environmental (through the reduction in carbon emissions) and security of supply. For these reasons the UK Government have made district heat networks central to their energy plans.
“Heat networks form an important part of our plan to reduce carbon and cut heating bills for customers (domestic and commercial). They 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.
They provide a unique opportunity to exploit larger scale – and often lower cost – renewable and recovered heat sources that otherwise cannot be used. It is estimated by the CCC that around 18% of UK heat will need to come from heat networks by 2050 if the UK is to meet its carbon targets cost effectively.”
UK Government Guidelines