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Brexit and Trump: The dilemmas for heat networks

Posted by Ian Allan on 19-Jan-2017 10:28:11

A few months ago we discussed the implications that Brexit may have on the Heat Network Regulations. Continuing on from this, and after the Prime Minister’s Brexit speech on Tuesday; we thought that a further update was due on how we expect Brexit coupled with President Trump’s inauguration is likely to affect the heat network industry.

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Last Tuesday (17th January 2017) Theresa May announced the 12 objectives of negotiations set out for Brexit to happen. The objectives outlined the main points that have been set for the UK to construct the new partnership with the EU and European countries.

Many critics are saying that Mrs May is going for a hard Brexit as she said “no deal is better than a bad deal for Britain.” And this has definitely made waves across Europe. But what does a hard Brexit mean for heat networks - and what about the role of the new President and his views on climate change and in particularly, renewable energy?

Heat networks and Brexit

In our previous blog, Brexit and the implications on the heat network regulations we highlighted that; heat (and cooling) networks are a global solution to decarbonise heat, and regardless of whether we are in or out of the EU - the UK will need to abide by the Paris Agreement Act Climate Change Act. Therefore heat networks will remain a key solution for the government in the efforts to decarbonise heat in the UK. Mrs May, in her speech stressed that the outcome of leaving the EU will be that Britain will become a ‘Global Britain.’ Meaning that we are open for business, and will continue to innovate and develop our country after Brexit and throughout.

Will the Heat Network (Metering and Billing) Regulations be enforced after Brexit?

The Heat Network Regulations will be enforced after Brexit. We say this for two reasons:

  1. The Paris Agreement - A global action plan to put the world on track to avoid global warming, and heat networks are an important solution to decarbonise heat.
  2. As of Tuesday, Theresa May confirmed that the UK will convert the EU ‘acquis’ (the accumulated legislation, legal acts, and court decisions which constitute the body of European Union Law) into British law.

In this respect, thankfully, the muddy waters of Brexit have cleared and Theresa May was crystal clear that UK law will adopt European laws, with British Parliament to decide upon any changes thereafter. This means that the heat network regulations are here to stay, and need to be abided by. Our latest updates to the Heat Network Regulations eGuide will advise how you need to abide by them, and give you guidance on doing it.

It’s all good news but what are the negatives Brexit has for heat networks?

Well, sadly we cannot see into the future and are definitely not politicians! But we do know that the pound’s value has been on a rollercoaster since the referendum. And this could potentially impact many projects across the UK, with the cost of import of goods increasing or decreasing. But, here’s food for thought - leaving the single market and customs union, could stimulate a homegrown district heating supply chain.

And finally, what about President Trump?

Mr Donald Trump is notorious for speaking his mind, and making his opinions known... And unfortunately it doesn’t sound too positive for research into climate change from him as he doesn’t believe the scientific evidence that climate change is real. But do not fret, some of the largest heat networks are located in the USA, and we wonder whether Trump Towers is actually part of the Manhattan District Heating System - of which President Trump will be doing his bit for decarbonising heat in America.

Key takeaways

  • The Heat Network Regulations are here to stay, so you need to make sure that you abide by them
  • The newly launched Brexit 12 objectives are pro-business for the UK so expect growth in heat networks
  • Heat networks are one of the most significant answers to decarbonising heat, and providing a better cost effective way to heat inner city and off-grid buildings than electricity

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Ian Allan

Head of R&D at Switch2