Reflections on District Energy Vanguards Event

Vattenfall was delighted to sponsor the District Energy Vanguards event in Bristol on 19th November.

This one-day workshop was designed to help local authorities consider how planning, spatial strategies and heat network development and management can help to shape a zero carbon future.

More than half of the United Kingdom's local authorities have declared a Climate Emergency and many of them now want to develop low/zero-carbon heat networks in response. Some are already leading the way towards developing innovative low-temperature (4th and 5th generation) heat networks, using low carbon heat sources such as water-source heat pumps, and developing policy to promote heat networks as they seek to transition from traditional gas-based systems to lower carbon heat sources.

Over the course of the workshop we shared Vattenfall’s experience of using existing heat networks, which in some cases have supplied heat for many decades, to help cities meet challenging decarbonisation targets. In cities such as Berlin, Amsterdam and Uppsala we are working with the city authorities to decarbonise heating systems by:

  • optimising heat network systems to manage demand peaks and integrate sources of waste heat (EfW);
  • developing new sources of renewable heat to supply heat networks;
  • electrification of heat combined with thermal storage to act as a thermal battery that can support increased penetration of renewables in the electricity system; and
  • expanding heat networks to displace heat from individual boilers burning fossil fuels.

We believe that heat networks can and will act as key enabling infrastructure to achieve carbon neutral cities.

In the UK, we have the opportunity to build flexible, modern, low-temperature networks that utilise a wide range of heat sources. Experience shows that constructing the pipes should be a priority, as we can incorporate new low-carbon heat sources later.

This also requires heat networks at scale, both to open up new low-carbon heat sources and so that the operators of strategic heat infrastructure can work in close partnership with cities and make a material impact to reduce carbon emissions. New policies such as concession zones can facilitate the development of such strategic heat networks.

The opportunity in the UK is immense, at Vattenfall we look forward to working with local authorities and others to invest in transforming the infrastructure in our cities towards a fossil-free future.

See also

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Castle Park Energy Centre - Bristol

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