New £320m Scheme Launched to Help Decarbonise UK's Heat Network

The Government has launched a £320m scheme to help accelerate the adoption of low-carbon heat technologies, such as ground source and air source heat pumps, across the UK's public, private and domestic sectors.

Announced in April, the Heat Networks Investment Project (HNIP) was officially launched on Tuesday (16 October). The scheme will offer grants and loans to businesses, hospitals, schools and local authorities with a heat network of two or more buildings.

The scheme is being operated by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which claims that switching from an individual gas boiler to a heat network system could reduce heating bills for those living in flats by 30%.

BEIS additionally claims that a switch to heat networks could “significantly” reduce the UK’s carbon emissions, if the transition is carried out at scale.

Specifically, the department has predicted that heat networks will meet up to 17% of the national heat demand for homes and almost one-quarter (24%) of the heat demand for industrial and public sector buildings by 2050.

“The UK has led in the decarbonisation of electricity, and [this scheme] shows we are just as committed to tackling heat,” Energy Minister Claire Perry said.

“[The HNIP] creates a route to market for innovative energy projects across the country and demonstrates a key objective of the Clean Growth Strategy; to help deliver technologies that can lower bills, cut carbon and improve the quality of life for communities across the country.”

The funding will be allocated on an application-by-application basis, with the last of the grants and loans set to be allocated by 2021. Heat networks could deliver up to 18% of UK heating demand by 2030, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has claimed.

The Figures

The launch of the scheme comes after BEIS began a six-month pilot study into low-carbon heat networks in October 2016.

During the pilot, researchers concluded that the projects supported by the full scheme would provide heat to approximately 5,000 domestic customers and 50 non-domestic buildings across nine heat networks.

BEIS claims that these nine networks will collectively deliver more than 85,000 MWh of heat annually, eliminating the equivalent of 216,324 tonnes of CO2 emissions within a 15-year period.