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Next Gen Networks Power Green Revolution
- September 15, 2021

Both homes and businesses are to be made greener, thanks to low-carbon energy which is being placed at the heart of the latest round of funding for heat network projects throughout England.

The new £270 million Green Heat Network Fund, announced on 7 September, will only support low-carbon technologies such as heat pumps, solar and geothermal energy in the roll-out of the next generation of heat networks, enabling more towns and cities to take up this tried and tested technology in 2022.

Heat networks supply heat to buildings from a central source, avoiding the need for households and workplaces to have individual, energy-intensive heating solutions, such as gas boilers. At present, there are over 14,000 heat networks in the UK, providing heating and hot water to around 480,000 consumers.

Energy Minister Lord Callanan said: “Finding a mix of innovative solutions to how we heat our homes in the most affordable way is going to be vital as we support people to gradually transition away from gas boilers over the next 15 years.

“This announcement shows we are going even further in our goals to expand this tried and tested heat networks technology, making even more use of the likes of recovered heat from the London Underground to heat our homes.

“The Green Heat Network Fund will also allow us to drive forward the new, cost-effective and low-carbon technologies we need to kick-start new industries and support new jobs in the low-carbon technology sector as we build back greener from the pandemic.”

The previous Heat Networks Investment Project (HNIP) has provided more than £165 million of funding for schemes across England and Wales since 2018.

The new Green Heat Network Fund (GHNF) will go further, with applications only being supported if they include low-carbon, heat-generating technologies like heat pumps, waste heat and energy from geothermal sources.

The GHNF successor scheme is set to play a key role in kick-starting market demand for heat pumps, which will drive down costs for consumers as well as delivering a mix of low-carbon heating solutions as the Government incentivises people to gradually transition away from fossil fuel boilers over the next 15 years.

The HNIP focused on accelerating the growth of the heat network market and permitted fossil fuel sources of heat provided they offered carbon reductions and would be replaced by low-carbon alternatives over time.

However, the GHNF scheme will incentivise new and existing heat networks in England to move away from high-carbon sources, as well as exploiting waste-heat opportunities while bringing down costs for consumers.

The Green Heat Network Fund is expected to fund the delivery of an estimated 10.3Mt of total carbon savings by 2050 – the equivalent of taking 4.5 million cars in England off the road for a year.

Also published last week was an assessment of the potential for future heat networks to be sited across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The study identifies opportunity areas that could be best placed to support future heat network projects, and how much heat could be supplied by them.

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