Heating our homes and businesses is responsible for some 20% of our carbon emissions.[1] Whilst emissions from power sector have been failing we are behind on our commitments to reduce emissions from heating.

This demand for heating is with a significant proportion of the country having to decide between heating and eating. Over 2 million households in England, more than 10%, are either not heating their homes properly, or simply not heating their homes to pay for other essentials.[2]

A key part of the government’s strategy to address the challenge of decarbonising heat, whilst enabling people to live in warm homes is developing heat networks. Millions of pounds of funding made available by government in recent years to kick start projects.

However, whilst there is substantial interest in city centre schemes and new-build developments from local authorities and developers, community-led and smaller-scale schemes have been slow to come forward.

Regen and Stephens Scowns solicitors have come together to publish a guide on delivering small scale heat networks. Released today, this paper sets out in plain English the key features and constraints of heat networks, aiming to give local authorities, community energy groups and others a clear picture of how to identify and deliver a scheme.

It’s important to remember that heat networks are a vehicle for delivering heat and can help to improve system efficiency, but are only part of the equation. The UK is facing a huge challenge to decarbonise its heating demand, which is why smaller scale schemes must be part of the response.

Heat networks are certainly not a panacea to our energy challenge. But given that 80% of the homes that will be standing in 2050 are already built, they could provide a critical bridge to adopting lower carbon solutions.

Stephens Scown will be exhibiting at the Regen Renewable Futures Conference on 28 November in Bath, where the role of heat networks as part of a much wider energy strategy for UK PLC will be a key theme.

[1] Committee on Climate Change https://goo.gl/heK14H

[2] Annual fuel poverty statistics, BEIS 2017 https://goo.gl/f7a5Ar

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