10 HPM 0214

HPM February 2014

Got a story? Ring us on 01732 748041 or e-mail twood@unity-media.com INDUSTRYWATCH At the forefront, driving the change Roger Webb, director of the Heating and Hotwater Industry Council (HHIC), talks about District Heat Networks and the benefits for homes and business... Towards the end of last year, Energy and Utilities Alliance (EUA) organised a meeting with companies interested in Heat Networks. HHIC and the other divisions of EUA supported this joint event. The Department of Energy and Climate Change came up from London to give a presentation and we took the opportunity to really explore the impact that heating networks could have on the UK heating market both in terms of helping to make heat more affordable, but also the potential impact on carbon emissions. All areas of the industry were represented, including heat source, pipes and metering, with delegates commenting that it would take six months to contact and arrange to meet each company individually. (We often underestimate the financial and time saving benefit that a meeting like this can offer.) A NETWORK OF PIPES Many of us around the table were aware of the premise; the supply of heat from a central source directly to homes and businesses through a network of pipes carrying hot water, meaning that individual homes and business do not need to generate their own heat on site. This brings numerous benefits including: • The efficient transportation and use of heat for a wide variety of users • A broad range of energy generation technologies can work together to meet demand for heat • Fuel flexibility • The supply and demand of energy can be managed • Lowered costs of energy generation • Increased fuel efficiency through use of combined heat and power • Reduced labour and maintenance cost as WWW.HPMMAG.COM compared to individual systems. These, in turn, deliver a range of beneficial outcomes. While in parts of mainland Europe heat networks are commonplace, few companies in the UK have any real experience in what is touted as a ‘new’ low carbon solution to heating; in fact heat networks currently provide less than two per cent of the UK’s heat demand. But in reality this form of heating has been used in other countries for years, in New York City since 1882. Watch any TV show or film where the story is based in New York and you will see steam rising from below ground. Steam vapour being vented through grates in the city streets of Manhattan is as synonymous with New York as Ellis Island or the Statue of Liberty. The New York city steam system is a district heating system which takes steam produced by steam generating stations and carries it under the streets of Manhattan to heat, cool, or supply power to high rise buildings and businesses. The New York Steam Company began providing this service in lower Manhattan in 1882 and today, Consolidated Edison operates the largest commercial steam system in the United States. It provides a steam service to over 1700 customers serving commercial and residential buildings in Manhattan with approximately 24 billion lbs of steam flowing through the system each year. So can a system like this work in UK cities? The government certainly thinks so. It is currently funding work in Nottingham, Newcastle, Manchester, Sheffield and Birmingham to determine the cities’ potential for a heat network. If the studies being carried out confirm that there is potential and the economics, the Green Investment Bank might be able to invest in the development of heat networks in these cities. If these large cities do indeed move to a Heat Network what impact will that have on the industry? Firstly, the pipework used in this type of network is manufactured outside of the UK, albeit at UK owned sites. Investment in UK production lines is not inconceivable, but as with any major investment the numbers need to stack up to make it worthwhile. I don’t have to tell you, but any investment made by UK business bring with it economic prosperity and job creation. CORRECT COMPETENCES The Heat Network is unregulated with a lack of standards. Industry would need to work closely with the appropriate parties on creating the necessary standards and the regulation. Training would need to be addressed too as, regular readers of my column know, I am a fervent believer that we must equip our installers with the right skills to ensure they have the correct competences to undertake the work they do. We also need to have a clear understanding of charging regimes, what caps are the government likely to introduce if any? And finally, the age old question what is the size and sustainability of the potential market? All of these discussions continue in the form of a Heat Network Group, run by the Energy and Utilities Alliance. If Heat Networks are to become a wider reality within the heating industry, then we will be at the forefront driving the change to create the most favourable conditions for our members. For further information on the HHIC, contact Roger Webb at: roger@hhic.org.uk 10 FEBRUARY 2014 HEATING & PLUMBING MONTHLY The New York City steam system is a district heating system which takes steam produced by steam generating stations


HPM February 2014
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