The roll out of district heat networks in the UK has “great potential” according to the head of Ramboll Energy UK, Crispin Matson. The consultancy said it was gearing up for opportunities following the government’s announcement of a £300 million funding package to deliver £2 billion-worth of district heat networks across the country over the next ten years, as part of its latest comprehensive spending review (Environment Analyst 26-Nov-15).
Ramboll is leading the creation of the Islington district heat network which seeks to remove heat from a Northern Line vent shaft on the London Underground and pump it into 500 nearby flats. But Matson said the potential is there for heat to be taken from data centres, canals and rivers to provide zero-carbon heat both across the capital and the rest of the country.
The Danish-headquartered consultancy has a lot of experience in district heat networks owing to their prevalence in the Nordic region. For example, in Denmark 62% of residential buildings are heated through combined heat and power systems and in Copenhagen that figure increases to 98%. In the UK meanwhile, just 2% of homes are currently heated by CHP.
However, Matson suggested this may be about to change given recent policy movements. He said: “Two years ago DECC came up with a heat strategy that stated if the UK is to decarbonise it will need district heating in London and heat pumps in rural areas. Since then feasibility studies have been carried out in 180 locations.
“The Greater London Authority is also demanding all new homes are built with the capability to be hooked up to district heating. Combined with the establishment of the Heat Network Delivery Unit in the Autumn Statement and the £300 million funding pot we see this industry offering great potential for our business.”
The firm also believes there is strong potential in the Germany and North American markets, with the US presently relying on steam heating which is both costly to operate and maintain, as well as a potential safety hazard. Ramboll was recently commissioned to undertake a renewable energy study for the Ivy League University Dartmouth College to evaluate the benefits of switching the existing steam system to modern hot water.