The UK’s Combined Heat and Power Association has welcomed the first round of funding to come from the new government agency, the Heat Network Development Unit.
The grant funding programme, worth £6m ($9.6m) has been launched by the government’s department for energy and climate change to specifically develop new heating and cooling networks and expand existing networks.
According to Ian Manders, deputy director of the CHPA, “Local authorities are at the heart of creating new city centre district heating schemes, and this welcome announcement shows that central government is serious about supporting them in this task”.
Last year, the CHPA submitted a proposal, called the Big Offer, to Ed Davey, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, suggesting that in times of limited funding, the most efficient way of helping create new district heating schemes was to support local councils carry out feasibility studies and other work required up to the point of going out to tender to build.
In tandem with the funding, the CHPA has committed to help develop an independent heat customer protection scheme for households on district heating schemes, and set up a code of best practice for design and build of new schemes.
In order to win a share of the funding, local authorities must bring forward ambitious and innovative proposals to develop and deliver heat networks that – as much as possible – draw their heat energy from renewable, sustainable or recoverable sources.
This could include any system in which heat is generated off-site by renewable or recovered sources such as waste heat from industry, energy from waste plants and biomass combined heat and power. Many university campuses, new mixed commercial and residential developments and high rise flats draw their heat from these systems.
The bidding process to apply for grant funding starts today (20 September 2013) and will continue for 18 months through a series of six bidding rounds. Bids will be assessed against transparent and robust criteria. These include the potential for commercial development, contribution towards low carbon and energy reduction objectives, compatibility with wider low carbon and growth agendas (where applicable) and a demonstrable commitment to robust project management and governance.