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What's new for heat networks 2019

Posted by Ian Allan

January is well underway and with it lots of talk of Brexit (surprisingly!). But, what about heat networks we hear you ask? Our blog looks at best practice standards and regulation worth keeping an eye out on in 2019.

Climate change and the clean growth strategy

The Earth’s changing atmosphere and its national and global impacts wound up in the headlines time and again during 2018, with plenty of coverage on the government’s efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change. The trend has continued in 2019, with lots of talks on how the UK can reduce its plastic and become a nation of reuse and recycle.

The UK has committed to reduce greenhouse emissions by at least 80% by 2050; and with that several initiatives such as the smart energy plan and improving the efficiencies in industry have been put in place. The Clean Growth Strategy announced late 2017, early 2018; defined by the Government as ‘growing our national income while cutting greenhouse gas emissions’ core role is to help deliver that promise. Its purpose being to increase productivity, create jobs, boost earning power for people across the nation and help protect the climate and environment upon which we and future generations depend. This subject has only strengthened in the beginning two weeks of 2019, with climate change being a major topic of interest in both press and social media. To read more on how this will play a role in shaping heat networks click here.

 The Clean Growth Strategy isn’t the only place we can see heat networks being one of the answers to carbon reduction; BEIS has adopted ‘Clean Growth’ as one of the ‘grand challenges’ facing the UK in their most recent Industrial Strategy White Paper. The strategy highlighted five priority areas in Clean Growth that will help transform construction techniques and energy making energy intensive industries competitive. This is another key news piece worth keeping tabs during 2019.  

CMA market study

Flashback to May 2018, the Competitions Market Authority (CMA) published their market study into the heat network industry. The comprehensive market study investigated whether households are getting a good deal from heat networks due to a large proportion of customers at risk of paying too much or receiving a poor quality of service. The study highlighted that although there are some major issues on heat networks, but some (especially those on privately owned heat networks) don’t. Heat network customers are also not privy to the same level of protections that of gas and electricity customers.

 The pending heat network regulation

 At the beginning of December BEIS announced its response to the recommendations by the CMA and proposed to put in place a market framework. The framework; heat networks: Ensuring sustained investment and protecting customers, aims to encourage further investment in the sector whilst protecting customers and supporting decarbonisation. At Switch2, we see this as great news for the long-term growth of the industry. And it will make sure that the entire sector commits to rigorous customer service and performance standards. The framework has posed questions to industry stakeholders to answer before consultation on the proposed policy in summer 2019.

 Our eGuide explains the pending regulation and what it will mean to the heat network sector, click here to download.

Building Regulations Part L

Part L of the Building Regulations are due to be updated in 2019/2020 with new changes relating to the conservation of fuel and power for both existing and new dwellings for heat networks. The changes to the Regulation reflect those made in the domestic building compliance guide 2013. The updates haven’t been confirmed just yet, but will put into place the changes made to SAP10.

SAP10

Updated every four years, SAP calculations are used to demonstrate the energy performance of dwellings in the UK and are a key part of building regulations compliance. The SAP10 is slightly delayed, with the new methodology not for use until the Part L of the building regulations have been revised (as the above point); however, it does give us a valuable insight into the revisions and allow us to plan-ahead.

The updated methodology for calculating energy use in new residential developments is likely to have a significant impact to the way consultants design heating systems. Watch out for Switch2 blogs focused on SAP updates in weeks to come.

ADE/CIBSE Code of Practice CP1 update

Currently out for consultation, the updated Code of Practice for Heat networks CP1.2 is due to be published by Autumn 2019. The new changes to the best practice guide have been made to ‘take the sector to the next level’ in the sense of improving efficiencies and aligning shared goals. The update looks at:

  • enhance the minimum performance
  • update the content to reflect how the UK heat networks market has evolved since 2015
  • improve the usability for each target audience group
  • improve links to existing guidance and standards where they exist
  • improve the checkability so that the reader can confirm compliance with CP1.2 and the evidence for compliance is clear. However, this work does not set up a formal, wider compliance scheme
  • enhance considerations of optimisation and future proofing of heat networks

The consultation is due to close on the 10th February 2019 and a link to the document can be found here.

What does this mean for heat networks?

At Switch2, we think it’s going to be yet another exciting year for heat networks. Momentum is growing in terms of regulation, along with more best practice standards entering the marketing – both things should be welcomed as it can only strengthen the sector.

Key takeaways

  • 2019 will be an important year for the heat network industry
  • Several new initiatives from Government have expressed how heat networks can be a sustainable answer for high density areas, including the clean growth strategy
  • The Heat Network Regulation is expected to be brought into the market, with a proposed policy due out in summer
  • The update to the Code of Practice is expected to be published in autumn

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Ian Allan

Head of Market Strategy

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