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techUK responds to Government's proposals for heat network zoning

techUK has submitted its response to the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) consultation on proposals for heat network zoning in England.

In the response, techUK agreed that leveraging data centre heat for district heating networks shows substantial promise, especially from a sustainability standpoint. While expressing the industry’s support, we highlighted challenges associated with re-design, granting access to third parties, as well as financial risks.

Some of the measures that we advocated for include:

  • Clarification of the specific temperature range associated with each heat source category, as well as what is meant by 'giving access'.
  • Active involvement of external consultants and industry experts to support the activity of the new zoning bodies, especially local Zone Coordinators.
  • Clear set of realistic guidelines that are consistent for data centres in different zones in England, providing direction but also allowing for a degree of flexibility due to variations in technologies applied and different commercial models.
  • Clarification of the funding mechanism for heat source reports.
  • Requirements to connect or provide access to premises to be properly justified so that companies (especially SMEs) can avoid costly appeal procedures. 
  • Recognition that data centres will have to prioritise their clients and ensure contractual obligations are met first before connecting to a heat network. 
  • Additional guidance on pricing agreements between heat network developers and heat sources, along with clarification on the responsibility and accountability of zoning bodies for pricing calculations.
  • Adoption of the lowest gCO2e/kWh limit (Option 1) which would necessitate heat network developers to prioritise heat sources that are greener and motivate the adoption of environmentally-friendly practices across the board.
  • Carbon tests to verify that exporting residual heat leads to a net reduction in CO2 emissions.
  • Continuation of discussions with techUK and the broader data centre industry to gain a comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms involved in heat export.

The response was accompanied by techUK's report on the integration of data centre heat into heat networks that talks about this topic in more detail. The report can be viewed here. 

Responses to the consultation will be used to inform the drafting of zoning regulations, the development of guidance, and the wider implementation of heat network zoning. The Government aims to publish a summary of the outcome and lay the regulations in Parliament later in 2024, or when parliamentary time allows. Members will be updated about any developments.

Register to attend our hybrid panel discussion on 19 March at 4 PM, sponsored by Equinix, where experts will explore how diverse industries can work together to tackle challenges related to data centre heat export. The event will be followed by a networking mixer.

techUK response to proposals for heat network zoning 2023


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