District heating is not a “silver bullet” for the UK’s low carbon future but it is likely to play a significant role.
That’s the view of Jonathan Graham, Head of Policy at the Association for Decentralised Energy, who said: “I don’t believe in silver bullets, there’s no one thing in heat that will solve all of the problems.
“However, if you look at power stations, if you look at industrial sites, if you look at cities, you all have quite a significant amount of heat currently that is not being used and together they waste enough heat to heat every home in the UK.”
District heating involves sending heat out from one or more main points to residential and commercial buildings. The heat is often in the form of hot water from energy generation or other processes.
Speaking at an event in London this week, Mr Graham added: “London alone produces about 12,000GW hours of waste heat a year so there’s a huge heat resource that’s available that we are not currently tapping.”
The benefits of district heating include lower energy and maintenance costs, reduced emissions, increased efficiency, security of power supplies and a reduction in fuel poverty.
It allows for flexible systems where heat sources can be connected and ‘rotated in’ as they become available without changing the rest of the infrastructure.
Around £320 million of government funding is expected to be invested in district heating in next five years, leveraging £2 billion of private and local capital investment.