E&T Engineering and Technology
The UK government has announced the latest round of heat network funding for England. The £270m ‘Green Heat Network Fund’ is intended to support low-carbon technologies such as heat pumps, photovoltaics and geothermal energy.
Heating buildings, which overwhelmingly uses fossil fuels, accounts for 21 per cent of the UK’s total carbon emissions. Cutting these emissions through improvements in efficiency and alternative heating is a major part of the government’s decarbonisation plan.
The new heating fund will assist the rollout of the “next generation of heat networks”, which will enable more towns and cities to take up green heating technologies from 2022.
Heat networks, also known as district heating, supply heat to buildings from a central source, avoiding the need for individual buildings to have their own inefficient, energy-intensive heating sources such as gas boilers. At present, there are over 14,000 heat networks in the UK, providing heat to around 480,000 people. As well as improving heating efficiency for homes, heat networks are the only proven way that larger-scale renewable and recovered heat sources – such as excess heat from the London Underground – can be utilised.
The previous funding round provided £165m for schemes in England and Wales since 2018 and permitted fossil fuel sources of heat, provided that they provide some carbon reductions and would be replaced by lower-carbon alternatives over time. The new fund will differ from its predecessor in that it will only support applications if they include low-carbon heating technologies such as heat pumps, waste heat and energy from geothermal sources, and solar heating.