The EU and UK governments are promoting energy efficiency in order to address climate change and drive economic performance. One of their key measures is to encourage the use of DHNs. Hence DECC, through their Heat Network Delivery Unit (HNDU) are providing grants to local authorities to undertake feasibility studies into new and extended networks. In doing so, HNDU require the consideration of low carbon heat sources including where applicable large-scale heat pumps.
The use of heat pumps is supported by the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) for which a considerably increased budget was allocated in the 2015 Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) allowing such support to exist until at least 2020/21.
The CSR also established a £320m budget to support the construction of DHNs.
It is understood that DECC are currently seeking agreement of Treasury to increase the tariff for non-domestic heat pumps to encourage their wider use.
To further improve developer confidence, DECC are intending to introduce a tariff guarantee for the RHI so that the tariff value is known at financial close rather than on commissioning.
In addition, to improve uptake, other changes are being proposed by DECC, including application to DHNs of the deeming methodology for domestic installations in order to provide further certainty of income.
“Small-scale combined heat and power is another looming mistake. Yes, combined heat and power (that is, putting individual power stations in each building, generating local electricity and heat to keep the buildings warm) can be a slightly more efficient way of using fossil fuels than the standard way (namely, centralised power stations and local condensing boilers)… And they use natural gas, which is a fossil fuel! The good news is, there is a much better way to generate local heat: use heat pumps. [The combination of heat pumps and low carbon electricity is] the future of building heating.”
Sir David MacKay, who was Chief Scientific Advisor to DECC and professor of engineering at Cambridge University, summarised the CHP v heat pump debate
“Our vision for decarbonisation of heating involves a number of low carbon technologies, but our modelling shows that there is a particularly important role for heat pumps and for heat networks. WSHPs in particular have a potentially important role to play in delivering large scale heat in densely populated urban areas. Water remains warmer than air on the coldest days which means they can be more efficient than air source heat pumps, and as water is much more dense than air, volumes are smaller so WSHP are quieter. Moreover, most dense urban areas have a river running through them which provides an ideal source of heat for properties near to suitable water sources, while land can be limited for extracting heat from the ground in a ground source heat pump.”
“We support the development of sustainable renewable energy whilst ensuring that appropriate measures are in place to protect the environment. Ground source heating and cooling (GSHC) systems can help to meet UK Government renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction targets. We encourage GSHC systems that are well-managed and designed to present a low risk to the environment and other users of water.”
“This recognises the huge potential of water-sourced heat pumps to deliver a low carbon solution to the UK’s heating and cooling demands.”
Richard Parry, chief executive of the Canal and River Trust, the charity that cares for 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales
“A million properties across England could in future be heated by water from rivers, canals and the sea, the government says. The Department for Energy calculates this is the potential of a technology known as the water source heat pump… The government’s water source heat map identifies more than six gigawatts of potential low-carbon heat”.
“Ground source heating and cooling systems have the potential to heat 300,000 UK buildings by 2020. New guidance published by the Environment Agency will support this energy revolution in homes and businesses whilst also helping to protect the environment.”
“We need to make the most of the vast amount of clean, renewable heat that lays unused in our rivers, lakes and seas. Doing this will help contribute to an energy mix that maximises clean, reliable home-grown resources rather than relying on foreign fossil fuels.”
Ed Davey, former Energy and Climate Change Secretary
“Most gas consumed in the UK is for heating. The Government is keen to develop and establish a role for lower carbon forms of heating and to maximise their contribution in safeguarding the UK’s energy security and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. You can find more information about our overall strategy for decarbonising heat in the Government’s 2013 policy paper The Future of Heating, Meeting the Challenge.”