UK help communities use rivers and estuaries for locally sourced heat

UK farmland

Homes across Britain could be provided with locally sourced clean, reliable heating according to a water source heat map published on the government website GOV.UK, the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) revealed on Monday.

The National Heat Map was commissioned by DECC and created by The Centre for Sustainable Energy. This publicly accessible, interactive web-based map identifies rivers and estuaries that could accommodate heat pumps with the capacity to each generate more than 1 megawatt of power, enough to provide heating and hot water to around 400 – 500 UK homes.

Heat demands of residential, commercial, industrial, public buildings are also included in the map, which is intended to support planning and deployment of local low-carbon energy projects. It is designed to help local authorities, private developers and community groups to identify prime locations for the installation of large water source heat pumps and lines up suitable bodies of water with areas where there the demand for heat is high.

According to the map, some 40 urban rivers and estuaries have the potential to provide large-scale renewable heating supplies to local communities through water source heat pumps, as an alternative to traditional gas-fired or electric domestic heating.

Low-carbon sources of renewable heat are obtained from water source heat pumps by taking heat from the water and feeding it into local heat networks or single buildings in local areas. Heat networks work by supplying heating to buildings and homes from a centralised local source through a system of insulated pipes. The UK government is keen to provide support to see significant growth in this industry, as local heat networks currently only provide 2% of the overall heating demand in the UK.

Ed Davey, Energy and Climate Change Secretary, commented:

“It sounds like magic but using proven technology we can now extract some of the heat in our rivers and estuaries and use that energy to heat our homes and offices.

“I want to help communities across England use our waterways for this renewable heat and this new map is designed to help communities, councils and developers identify the most promising opportunities. If we can succeed on the large scale, it would cut Britain’s import bill and boost our home-grown supplies of clean, secure energy.”

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