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Industry-wide district heating quality standard call

The director of a manufacturer of pre-insulated pipe systems used for district heating has called for an industry-wide system of quality standards
A Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) report published in the spring of 2012 - 'The future of heating: A strategic framework for low carbon heat' - highlighted the key role that district heating will play in lowering carbon emissions and it is clear that the technology's market share is set to increase in the coming years.

Mark Whettall, managing director of Hampshire-based pipe manufacturer CPV, said: 'While we wholeheartily welcome growth in the uptake of district heating in the UK and the confidence that DECC has placed in the technology's ability to help decarbonise heating and hot water supplies, it is critical that our industry steps up collectively and establishes a system of quality standards to cover all aspects of district heating networks.'

He acknowledged that there were many good-quality suppliers in the sector, but said the increase in new projects would lead to an influx of designers and installers with little or no experience of district heating network infrastructure entering the market.

'It is of the utmost importance that all stakeholders concerned with the manufacture, planning, design, installation, operation and maintenance of the next generation of district heating networks take every possible care to ensure that the costly mistakes of the 1970s and 80s are not repeated.'

Mr Whettall said many of these problems arose when social housing providers chose gas, coal and oil-fired district heating for the new homes built to replace back-to-back terraced housing.

Hundreds of kilometres of underground district heating pipes were installed to supply the new homes, but there was little serious consideration given to the quality of the installation.

He continued: 'Standards and specifications from other sectors of the heating industry were wrongly applied and although there were some successes, there were many more failures. In the decades that followed, many local authorities abandoned their district heating systems in favour of decentralised gas heating, but fortunately some, undaunted, recognised the true potential of the technology and they persisted.'

These schemes paved the way for today's new generation of district heating networks and clearly demonstrated how successful the technology could be when introduced properly.

Mr Whettall concluded: 'Collectively, we need to ensure that system owners and developers insist that their supply chain all use the new quality standards and all manufacturers work together to provide accredited training for the designers, installers and supervisors.

'I'm very positive for the future for our industry... but without checks and balances being put into place and enforced by scheme owners and developers, the reputation of the technology at such a critical stage in its development will be put at risk and moreover, threaten the UK's ability to tackle a sizeable proportion of the UK's carbon emissions.

'A working group quickly needs to be established to bring together government agencies, local authorities, suppliers and their trade bodies such as the CHPA and UKDEA.'
7 March 2013

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