District heat improvements could save UK £30 billion

Report claims improvements could reduce capital costs by up to 40 per cent

Improvements to how district heat networks are designed and built could save the UK up to £30 billion, according to new reports.

The reports by the Energy Technologies Institute set out eight “route maps” to help reduce the capital cost of setting up such networks by between 30 and 40 per cent.

The maps include establishing a new district heat knowledge centre to help coordinate research and training, using external walls instead of digging trenches and sharing the cost of the civils work other utility companies.

The summary report claims it would cost the government £10 million and the district heat industry a further £5 million to implement these ideas.

According to the report, more than three quarters (77 per cent) of the cost of a typical heat distribution network is taken up by engineering work to excavate trenches (37 per cent), installing transmission and distribution pipes (17 per cent) and installing heat interface units (23 per cent).

The reports also found that while the technical designs for district heating networks used in the UK are “broadly similar” to ones used abroad, other countries have a more standardised methodology for carrying out assessments, design and construction for new scheme.

“Our analysis indicates that close to half of the UK’s existing heat demand could be economically connected to heat networks,” said project manager, Nicholas Eraut.

“We believe that, whilst industry can fund many of the activities required, central government is best placed to support the route maps in areas where commercial investment is unlikely.

“We welcome the government’s commitment to building and extending heat networks across the country, both through its Heat Networks Investment Project and as part of the its Clean Growth Strategy, and we recommend the route maps developed in this project to achieve greater roll-out, more quickly and at lower costs.”

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