UK should plan for a more advanced heat network, says report

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The latest insight paper from Cornwall Insight, The future of UK heat networks ­– critical comparisons with European markets, examines the development of heat networks within the UK and highlights what lessons can be learnt from other markets.

Key findings of the report are:

  • Peer analysis of Germany, Netherlands and Sweden highlights several lessons for the UK to consider when establishing its own heat market
  • The need to plan for a more advanced and aggregated heat market
  • The barriers that will need to be overcome to make this a reality.

Stuart Leaver, analyst at Cornwall Insight, said of the report findings, “The UK faces a variety of challenges in terms of tackling heat decarbonisation and implementing effective, low-risk options to move closer to the net-zero target. However, despite clear policy and decarbonisation pathways outlined by the government, there is much that can be learnt from our European neighbours who are at more advanced stage than the UK.

“Analysis from other heat networks in Europe has highlighted a number of innovative investment opportunities for the UK’s own network and the need to plan for a more advanced and aggregated heat market.

“For this to happen, heat generators need to be offered a variety of business cases for scheme development and expansion, and Local Authorities will need to play a key role as local solutions will be required to enable upscaling in market developments. The UK may want to invest in creating a liberal heat market, opening up opportunities and reducing costs for the consumer.

“However, there are several barriers that need to be overcome, including issues surrounding connection, consumption and protection for both consumers and generators that will all need to be addressed to ensure success.

“Most importantly, the UK will need to mitigate the risk to investment for heat networks. This will require thoughts around multiple supplier models for heat, and the opportunity to promote competition and therefore innovation. With more of an interconnected network the UK should be able to reap the benefits and lower carbon emissions.”