Heat networks

30 Sep 2020 11:03 AM

A heat network provides heating and hot water to an apartment, commercial site or series of buildings close together. It can also provide cooling. There is interest in using them to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from UK buildings. This POSTnote looks at the technology of heat networks and their sources of heat. It looks at considerations when building new networks. It also outlines a potential future market framework.

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Generating heat and hot water in buildings accounts for a large part of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. This is because most heat is made by burning natural gas. Emissions from heating will need to reduce to almost zero by 2050 to meet UK climate change targets. Heat networks are likely to be a part of this emissions reduction.

There are currently around 14,000 UK heat networks and half a million customers. This is low compared to some other parts of Europe and abroad. However, the UK Government has a target for heat networks to supply around a fifth of heat by 2050. To achieve this a new market framework is being created. This is needed to increase investment and put consumer protections in place for heat network customers that are currently lacking.

Key points in this briefing include:


POSTnotes are based on literature reviews and interviews with a range of stakeholders and are externally peer reviewed. POST would like to thank interviewees and peer reviewers for kindly giving up their time during the preparation of this briefing, including

* Denotes contributors who acted as external reviewers for the POSTnote