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Brexit: The Implications for the Heat Network Regulations

Posted by Ian Allan

Brexit and the transition of a new Prime Minister is likely to play a major part in the movement of UK economics. In the next few years it could have a major effect on legislation and regulations… But what does it mean for the Heat Network Regulations?

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Introduced in 2014, The Heat Network Regulations were enacted to satisfy the UK’s obligations under the European Union’s Energy Efficiency Directive (EED). The EED is a cornerstone in the EU’ plan to reduce European CO2 by 2020.

So will the pressure put on the UK by the EED be relaxed after Brexit?

We don’t think so; Why? Because the UK have international carbon reduction commitments as a result of signing up to the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement sets out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C. The agreement is due to enter into force in 2020 and whether or not the UK is a part of the EU or has ‘brexit-ed’... the Heat Network Regulations is likely to be an important part of the UK plan to reduce CO2 emissions from space heating.

Will the government reduce the focus on encouraging district heating as a method decarbonising heat?

We do not think think so. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), formerly the NMRO are still committed to the £320M heat network investment program to enable local authorities to create their networks.

District heating and heat networks are a key arrow in the UK’s quiver to make use of “waste” heat, heat from waste and large scale renewables.

However it is important to point out that the Heat Network Regulations not only cater as a ‘fix’ for the EU 2020 plan, but also acts as an aid for a solution for the Paris Agreement (An international legally binding agreement to emit carbon emissions due to take force by 2020) and the Climate Change Act 2008.

Heat Networks are a global, not just “European” solution enabling the decarbonisation of heat.
They exist all over the world either providing heat or in warm countries cooling.

So what roles are Asia and America playing to stop the melting of the polar ice caps?

Asia (being a hot, tropical region) uses the opposite to District heating - District cooling (we do use district cooling in the UK but on a much smaller scale). 

An Example of this is Marina Bay, Singapore. This is the largest underground cooling network in the world. The underground centralised system has a 5km centralised piping network in place to serve its customers in the Marina Bay financial district.


And the Americas?

America holds some of the World’s most substantial heat networks such as; The New York City steam system

Thomas Edison, famous for creating the lightbulb, built the World’s first commercial power plant in lower Manhattan in 1882, where he sold the by product of his electricity generation, steam to heat nearby buildings. This Power Plant later in life became a part of one of the World’s largest district heat network, serving over 1,700 customers heating, cooling and electricity.              

Key Takeaways:

  • Brexit means brexit, but this will probably not affect the UK’s global commitments to carbon reduction such as The Paris Agreement
  • Until article 50 is submitted, and by the end of the 2 year cease, we still abide to EU laws... Many think that the UK will adopt many of the EU laws thereafter
  • Heat networks are are Worldwide

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Ian Allan

Head of Market Strategy

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