Heat network zoning: Government consultation outcome

What is heat network zoning and how will it impact the heat sector?

By Sophie Wyatt

 9th August 2022

Currently, around 2% of the UK’s heat demand is provided by heat networks. But, that the creation of heat network zones across the country could prove vital, as the country strives to reach a more sustainable and climate-friendly future. The Climate Change Committee estimates that 18% of UK heat could come from heat networks, by 2050.

The government recently announced that the UK will proceed with its plans to develop heat network zones. This announcement follows consultation and the 2020 Energy White Paper, where it committed to introducing heat network zoning in England by 2025.

But what exactly is heat network zoning? And how will it impact the sector and the country as a whole?

What is heat network zoning?

Heat networks transfer hot water through pipes from a central source to buildings in the surrounding areas, including homes, factories, sport facilities, hospitals and universities. Using large-scale renewable and recovered heat sources – such as waste heat from industry and heat from rivers and mines – could help reduce reliance on fossil fuel-based methods of heating.

The aim of zoning is to develop heat networks in specific areas where they can provide the lowest cost, low-carbon heat to consumers. The government proposals come as a response to a consultation launched in October 2021 – this was held in the hope of seeking views on how best to implement zoning.

Once a heat network zone has been established, the government has said that all new buildings within the zone will be required to connect to it. As well as all existing large non-domestic buildings and all existing large public sector buildings. 

What impact could they have?

Heat networks will give the UK a much needed boost towards a sustainable future. These networks can unlock otherwise inaccessible, larger scale renewable heat sources – such as waste heat.

Within a heat network zone, certain buildings will have to connect to a heat network within a certain timeframe – within 10 years of being requested to do so by a heat network operator. If there are large residential buildings inside a zone which already use communal heating, or are undergoing major refurbishment, they will be required to connect to a heat network. However, the government are considering allowing exemptions based upon factors such as floor plans and heat load size.

Zones will carry out regular reporting and implement a monitoring framework, to understand exactly how the zone is working alongside its consumers, and to check energy levels. This will also help with understanding exactly how the new heating network implementation is helping the country to reduce waste heat among other unsustainable factors. Certain areas of the country are particularly suited to heat networks due to a range of factors such as building density and availability of heat sources.

How can we help?

At Welcome Energy, we understand the need for transparency. That’s why we are on hand to offer our clients a stress-free, affordable range of services. Our team brings together over 30 years of experience in the billing of communal and district heat networks – and we are here to answer any of your thoughts or queries surrounding heat networks and zoning.

We have always been ahead of the curve when it comes to heating efficiency and transparency. And we want to help our clients find opportunities in the ever-evolving heating landscape.

To find out more about what Welcome Energy can do for your business or property, or to learn more about heat networks, get in touch today.



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