Help Whitehall spend £320m on ‘central heating for cities’

Views sought from current and potential heat network sponsors and investors

CIBSE Journal August 2016 REHAU's district heating pipework

Rehau's district heating pipework

A government consultation is under way on how best to spend £320m to develop low carbon heat networks for towns and cities across England and Wales over the next five years.

The money was allocated for the heat networks investment project (HNIP) after the Spending Review, and the consultation will help decide how to support ‘central heating for cities’, which the recently axed Department for Energy and Climate Change said could cut household energy bills by as much as 30%.

Heat pumps, combined heat and power (CHP) and geothermal plant are all options on the table to supply low carbon heat to a series of networks.

There are £2bn worth of district heating schemes under consideration in more than 150 local authorities, and the technology has the potential to meet up to 20% of heat demand by 2030, according to government estimates.

A report by the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE) also claimed that heat networks could succeed without government subsidy from 2021. Its report Levelling the playing field: Unlocking heat infrastructure investment included proposals to attract investment by: reducing heat network capital risk; lowering network costs by creating a fairer tax regime; and providing local authorities with the support they need to move forward with new network investments.