Cost reduction measures could save up to 40 per cent in capital costs for UK district heating networks, or almost £30bn ($39bn).

That is the conclusion of a new report from the country’s Energy Technologies Institute, the result of an 18-month project to roadmap the wide-scale deployment of district heating networks.

These cost reductions would “enable heat networks to be more competitive with alternative pathways to decarbonizing heat in existing buildings”, the ETI said.

The project looked at potential cost reductions for the infrastructure and installation needed for district heat networks. It found that because 56 per cent of the UK’s building heat demand is concentrated within only 4 per cent of its geographical area, there is “a real opportunity for effective heat networks”.

However, only 2 per cent of UK buildings are connected to district heat networks at the moment, and the high initial capital investment and long installation times are barriers to wide-scale deployment.

In response, the report set out eight roadmaps detailing challenges to be addressed, proposed solutions, development and commercialization, and work plans.

The funding needed to deliver these plans should consist of around £10m from the government and £5m from the district heating sector, the report said. The construction costs of demonstration projects would also be funded by district heating scheme developers.

Project manager Nicholas Eraut said: “Our analysis indicates that close to half of the UK’s existing heat demand could be economically connected to heat networks. 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 its Clean Growth Strategy, and we recommend the route maps developed in this project to achieve greater rollout, more quickly and at lower cost.”

Source: Decentralised Energy