1 September 2020
A phoenix rises
As the UK’s green new deal gains momentum and we see increased instability in energy markets leading to rising energy contract prices, a new challenge confronts housing developers: How can developers provide heating to their clients that is safe, cheap, reliable and sustainable? As of 2010 more than 2 million UK households were living in fuel poverty but, thanks to the governments’ new environmental focus, an old pariah might hold the answer. District heating has historically been characterised as a technology with potential in theory but hobbled by too many costs to be embraced wholesale. Since such a system would either require up-front investment when constructing a new development or challenging retrofitting of existing structures, many have remained deterred. Despite this chequered history, district heating is now making a comeback. It can provide low or zero carbon heating at a fraction of the price to consumers that a regular boiler would guarantee. As a result, the BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) is eyeing it as a potential catch-all solution for the UK’s heating needs.
District heating for all
The government has promised a new £40m district heating scheme for this year, showing no reservations about the technology’s potential. The scheme would see large-scale district heating installed in four major cities: Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool and London. Since district heat can use a wider variety of fuels than other common heating technology it is ideal for addressing building heating in the UK. Housing produces 40% of the UK’s carbon footprint comes from, 42% of that figure will come from heating in 2030. The potential for district heating to reduce CO2 on a grand scale, therefore, is profound. As a relatively new technology, district heating’s reputation has suffered due to a lack of solid regulation around its use. However, increased transparency surrounding billing, thanks to firms like Welcome Energy, means consumer trust is being restored as well.