The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has announced that it has initiated a GBP6 million grant funding programme for local authorities in England and Wales. The funding will be given for innovative development of heating and cooling networks, as well as for new ways of upgrading older networks.
Systems where heat is generated off-site by renewable or recovered sources such as waste heat from industry, energy from waste plants and biomass combined heat and power will be considered. This type of heat source is often used in locations such as university campuses, new mixed commercial and residential developments and high rise flats.
The Olympic Park District Heating and District Cooling Network is an example of recent successful heat network projects, where 18 km of distribution pipes provided the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games with efficient heating and cooling using gas and biomass boilers. The heating and cooling capacity amounts to 100 MW, which could expand to 200 MW and is expected to save 11,000 tonnes of CO2 each year by 2015.
To enter the bidding process to apply for grant funding, local authorities must submit proposals to develop and deliver heat networks that draw energy from renewable, sustainable or recoverable sources. The bids will be evaluated against criteria that includes commercial development potential, lower use of carbon and energy, as well as compatibility with wider agendas for low carbon and growth. The bidders should also demonstrate a commitment to strong project management and governance. A series of six bidding rounds will continue for the next 18 months.
The Heat Networks Delivery Unit (HNDU), part of the Department of Energy and Climate Change, will manage the fund, which will meet 67% of the estimated eligible costs of specialist consultants used to develop technical proposals and financial evaluations. Applicants will be required to contribute the other 33%.
DECC will offer advice to local authorities on how to improve their applications if they are considered to be realistic commercial propositions, but fall short of the threshold for funding.
Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker stated: “Increasing the use of low carbon heating in our buildings is helping to reduce our dependency on costly, imported oil and gas.
“Thanks to the Coalition Government’s support, many UK buildings have already made the switch from traditional fuels to low carbon heat sources. This new grant funding programme builds on these successes by helping Local Authorities develop more commercially viable low carbon heat networks.”