UK: Boris backs district heating plan

Date: 11 March 2013

Network could eventually heat and cool much of central London


Mayor Boris Johnson has published a guidance document for new district heating schemes in London. These would deliver heat via hot water or steam from a decentralised energy centre to buildings in a larger local area. The heat can be produced from sources including biomass, energy from waste, or renewables.


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The District Heating Manual for London is intended to provide clarity for the capital’s growing district heating development. Aimed at developers, network designers, planners and planning authorities, it promotes a framework for development of the energy infrastructure that will underpin the city’s decentralised energy plans.


The London Mayor’s guidelines are significant, claims Ian Manders, head of the Combined Heat & Power Association (CHPA) district heating & cooling group.


“District heating has a bright future as part of the transformation of our energy supply. The Mayor’s guidance will ensure that the major developments in London will have reliable and affordable low carbon heating for their residents and businesses,” he said.


The CHPA believes the guidance will also help the future linking of these pioneering projects to provide city-wide heat networks that will be heating and cooling much of central London by the 2040s.


A question mark over such ambition, though, relates to the track record of district heating, for example in eastern Europe and North America. Over the years facilities there have suffered from poor maintenance and low levels of reliability and service so that customers lost confidence in the system.


“Customer confidence is critical to the acceptance of this new approach to heating our cities,” agrees Manders,  pointing to CHPA efforts to develop a consumer protection scheme and charter.


Meanwhile, Cofely, a GDF SUEZ company, has recently completed the first phase of the Leicester District Energy Scheme, enabling thousands of homes, as well as council-owned and other buildings in Leicester, to be provided with environmentally friendly energy.


Spanning six city estates, the system is the largest of its kind in the UK to be installed in one phase. It uses a combination of over 5MW of low carbon gas-fired combined heat and power (CHP) and upgraded biomass boilers.

Source: Process Engineering