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Plan to improve poorly performing heat networks

Thousands of homes and businesses on old and inefficient heat networks will benefit from lower bills and a more reliable heating supply thanks to government funding, announced this week.

Lord Callanan, Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance

Customers in more than 4,000 homes will see poorly performing heat networks improved, meaning fewer breakdowns where people can be left without heating and hot water. 

Twenty-four projects across England will receive a share of more than £13.2 million, while a further £667,000 will go to 31 projects to fund investigations into the improvements needed to ensure customers receive a reliable service, with heat network operators taking the required action. 

The funding is the first round of awards to be made under the £32 million Heat Network Efficiency Scheme. 

Lord Callanan, Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance, said:? “Families and businesses shouldn’t have to worry about whether they will receive a reliable heating and hot water supply. 

“This funding means improvements will be made to old and inefficient heat networks, preventing further breakdowns and ensuring they use less energy. 

“We’re investing millions to build new heat networks, reducing emissions and providing low-cost heating to communities across the country. But it’s equally important we upgrade and maintain existing systems so everyone benefits.” 

Heat networks offer carbon emissions savings by supplying heat to buildings from a central source, avoiding the need for households and workplaces to rely on individual, energy-intensive heating solutions - such as gas boilers. As such, heat networks provide a significant contribution to the UK’s carbon reduction commitment.  

But some heat networks haven’t been upgraded since they were installed more than 40 years ago, meaning many are inefficient due to not being installed properly, poorly maintained or the equipment wearing out.  

The Heat Network Efficiency Scheme (HNES), which opened in February this year, forms an important part of the government’s support for heat networks. This also includes the £288m Green Heat Network Fund, which supports the creation of heat network projects that use a low carbon heating source, such as a heat pump, solar or geothermal energy, to provide heat and hot water to connected homes and businesses.  

Projects to receive funding today include: 

Leeds City Council, which will receive more than £2.2 million to improve the efficiency of heat networks serving 837 residents through improving insulation levels, reducing heat losses and leakages; 

Great Places Housing Association, which has been awarded more than £1.6 million to improve the efficiency of the Richmond Park heat network in Sheffield, serving 299 residents. The funding will seek to correct high heat loss issues, bad insulation and old equipment; and

The Guinness Partnership, which has been awarded £2 million for the improvement of four heat networks serving almost 700 residents across sites in Aylesbury, Stockport, Gloucester, and Brixton. The funding will go towards reducing heat network costs and heat losses, improving insulation, and replacing outdated infrastructure. 

Last month, government launched a consultation to shape and improve the future of heat networks.  

Under the proposals, homes and businesses supplied by heat networks would receive greater consumer protections currently only afforded to those on traditional gas and electricity contracts.   

This would ensure fairer prices through their inclusion in a potential future price cap on energy bills, consistent standards for quality of service and supply of heat, backed up with regular and clear bills. 

28 September 2023

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