Yorkshire could play vital role in cutting urban energy waste

The growth of Yorkshire’s successful heat network sector could cut energy waste in  towns and cities across the county and create thousands of new jobs.

The Heat Network Task Force is calling on the government to create a regulatory framework for the sector that would help stimulate a six-fold growth in high efficiency heat networks up to 2030. This would provide lower carbon, affordable warmth to homes and buildings across the County and the wider UK.

“Heat accounts for nearly half of all energy used in the UK and is one of the biggest sources of energy waste”, said Task Force member Ian Allan, of Yorkshire-based community heat network specialist Switch2 Energy.

He explained: “By using district and community heat networks to generate heat locally in one large local plant and then piping the heat directly to multiple customers, much higher efficiency can be achieved than by using multiple individual boilers. Renewables, or even energy waste, can often be used to increase the sustainability of these projects.”

Yorkshire is already helping to lead the growth of UK heat networks. Projects include Leeds’ £40m district heating network that will supply hot water a via system of ‘super insulated’ underground pipes. Other existing major district and community heat schemes are located across the county, including Hull, Doncaster, Sheffield, Wakefield and Kirklees, with many more projects in the pipeline.

The Association for Decentralised Energy (The ADE), which led the Task Force, said the creation of a regulatory framework would provide a significant boost to the market, while reducing risk, and the cost of investing in the industry. The recommendations also set out how to ensure customer protection and heat network build and operation standards.

The ADE’s Director, Dr Tim Rotheray, said: “Government support and recognition of heat networks as a lower cost, lower carbon heat solution has seen their numbers increase across Yorkshire, but moving forward we need to work together as an industry so that customers are protected and satisfied with the service they receive, and that heat networks are a low-risk investment opportunity.

“As an industry we have been proactive in driving up standards, through establishing customer protection through the Heat Trust and the creation of the ADE & CIBSE Code of Practice. This report is a vital next step to meeting Government’s ambitions to cost effectively decarbonise heat.”

Claire Perry, Energy and Clean Growth Minister said: “Heat networks offer huge potential to reduce carbon emissions from our homes and businesses, deliver significant cost savings for consumers and create thousands of skilled jobs.

“Our ambitious Clean Growth Strategy sets out how we will support the market to build and extend heat networks across the country. That’s why we are investing £320 million in the Heat Networks Investment Project and why we welcome the Heat Network Task Force report which sets out clear proposals on how to reduce investment risk and develop a market which provides strong protections for consumers.”

The full Task Force Report is available at www.theade.co.uk/resources/publications