England’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) recently released a heat map created by UK organization The Centre for Sustainable Energy. In a nation that understands the importance of efficient heat, a government-sponsored heat mapping project is not necessarily newsworthy. This particular heat map, however, is notable because of its scale: it covers the entire country.
NOTE: The interactive heat map of the UK is now available for public access. The heat map graphically displays heat density, locations of district energy and CHP facilities, and more.Choose the “Layers” options to display the parameters of interest. Other navigation elements are explained and intuitive. Access the map here: http://ceo.decc.gov.uk/nationalheatmap/
According to the DECC, the National Heat Map was completed “to support planning and deployment of local low-carbon energy projects in England…by providing publicly accessible high-resolution web-based maps of heat demand by area.” The National Heat Map will help local governments and private investors identify places where new district heating networks can be constructed or existing networks expanded to reduce energy costs and increase fuel efficiency. The Heat Map also includes locations of power plants to reflect the potential for inclusion of waste heat in new or expanded district energy projects.
The creation of a National Heat Map is part of a government effort to create a comprehensive national heat strategy. The heat strategy will identify how the country supplies and uses heat and create a policy framework to guide the future “substantial changes required across our economy and the role for government.” Reducing the amount of energy that is used for heating is a high priority for the British government, and with good reason. According to the DECC:
“Heat is the single biggest reason we use energy in our society. We use more energy for heating than for transport or the generation of electricity. This year the UK will spend around £33 billion on heat across our economy.”
While district energy projects are constructed (and often envisioned, planned and developed) at the local level, it makes sense to for the national government to this type of research. According to Simon Rogers of the Guardian,
“Individual heat generation, through boilers, is responsible for the bulk of residential carbon emissions, so knowing where the densest areas are is useful. But mapping it can be expensive – not all councils have created these so far and those that have spent between £5,000 and £60,000 on them. By creating a national map, that process has been circumvented.”
In other words, a national government policy enables smarter planning and decision-making by local governments. With a National Heat Map, local governments can quickly determine the energy and cost savings that district energy would bring and decide where to build first.
The heat strategy and the National Heat Map reflect a strong commitment to the type of comprehensive energy policy strategies that are missing in the U.S., where policy typically focuses on electricity and ignores heating and cooling—even though this sector represents 31% of U.S. end-use energy.
Cities, towns and communities, however, are stepping in to acknowledge the need to include heating and cooling in smart energy planning and policy efforts. That’s why IDEA is working to take another British import, the Community Energy Development Guide, and repurpose it for U.S. leaders and planners. The Community Energy Development Guide and the Community Energy Planning workshop in Chicago on June 30 will discuss heat mapping and other strategies to help city, town and municipal leaders bring efficient and economical district energy projects to their communities.
For more information on IDEA’s work supporting city planners, government officials, sustainability officers, economic development officials and others looking to bring sustainable local energy to their communities: IDEA’s Community Energy Planning Workshop (June 30, Chicago) and IDEA’s 103rd Annual Conference in Chicago (June 29-July 2, Chicago).