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Heat and Decentralised Energy 2017

Heat and Decentralised Energy 2017

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£500 million.

That’s how much Government estimates could be saved from industrial sector energy bills through its proposed Industrial Heat Recovery Support Programme. Industrial heat recovery saves money, supporting business competitiveness; it also reduces carbon emissions and helps bring benefits to local communities through the export of heat through heat networks.

Industry has known about the potential for the recovery and recycling of heat for many years.

The Arla Foods milk processing facility near Aylesbury uses an innovative system designed and delivered by Edina. Two CHP engines are fuelled by a mix of natural gas and biogas generated through anaerobic digestion of waste products from the dairy’s processes. As well as using the power generated by the CHPs on site, most of the heat produced is captured and used in pasteurisation, homogenisation and for cleaning circuits.

At the Janssen Pharmaceutical plant in Cork, Finning CHP plant was installed to provide greater resilience and to reduce energy costs. As well as using power on site, the CHP generates heat in two ways. Exhaust gases are used to evaporate condensate return water to generate steam, whilst heat exchangers harvest heat from the engine water jacket circuit to produce low temperature hot water. These are both then used in industrial processes within the plant.

Despite the success stories, there are practical, commercial and organisational barriers to the development of heat recovery projects (and these are something that the new support programme should aim to address).  Identifying sources of waste heat and integrating them with existing systems can be a technical challenge. Capital is constrained, with many competing priorities for investment, all of which need to demonstrate returns in timescales that are attractive to industry. And many organisations lack the skills to develop and deliver these opportunities.

The Royal Mint is facing up to many of these challenges as  it strives to improve the efficiency of a range of highly energy-intensive processes. Electricity is itslargest energy expenditure, so it is considering using either CHP or a hydrogen generator for electricity and capturing the waste heat for space heating or for use in production processes. The Royal Mint is thinking more broadly: waste heat from smelting furnaces and other processes could also be captured for re-use. There are concerns, however: how to ensure that back-up heat is available whilst managing maintenance and repair costs; whether natural gas provides sufficient future-proofing for decarbonisation; how to capture waste heat and not simply add to the problem; and – a crucial challenge - how to create the time to assess the options in detail.

Reducing risk, unlocking capital investment and helping build knowledge and capacity among industrial organisations will be key to the success of heat recovery schemes. The support provided by BEIS for local authority-led heat networks in recent years has set a template for how Government can work with communities to deliver significant infrastructure projects; the hope is that the new Industrial Heat Recovery Support Programme will help to unlock similar potential within our manufacturing sector.

It’s a good news story for industry and manufacturing in a time of uncertainty. We’ll be talking more about the industrial sector at Heat and Decentralised Energy 2017. We’ll explore the importance of leadership in bringing forward the transformational projects that will build industrial competitiveness by cutting costs, maximising energy productivity and reducing the sector’s environmental impacts.

Join us on Thursday 30 November at The Crystal in London for Heat and Decentralised Energy 2017. You can book your place at http://www.heatconference.co.uk/booknow

Heat and Decentralised Energy 2017 is sponsored by Siemens and Exxon Mobil, and supported by EDF Energy, Centrica Business Solutions, Clarke Energy, Pinnacle Power, Rehau and SAV Systems.

 

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Decentralisation and devolution have been two of the policy buzzwords of recent years, especially in the energy sector. Local models of generation, supply and delivery have gained a huge amount of traction, from community owned solar PV farms to a growing number of district heating networks to cooperative wind farms. But what about the human face of a decentralised energy system? Who’s in charge? What skills and competencies do they need? Who holds them accountable?

We asked Emma Bridge, Chief Executive of Community Energy England, and Julian Packer, Low Carbon Investment Director at Greater Manchester Combined Authority, for their views.

 

Q: Where does leadership come from in a decentralised energy system?

Emma Bridge: The whole premise of a decentralised energy system is that leadership comes from the local area. To be truly effective, this needs to be a mixture of local authorities, local enterprise partnerships, local businesses and communities. Community energy has a vital role to play here. It doesn’t just enable energy to be generated at a local level, it encourages us as individuals to take greater control over how our energy is generated. It also reconnects communities with their relationship with energy, enabling them to get involved and engaged with energy efficiency and process of demand management. You need all these facets to be brought together for decentralised energy to work effectively.

Julian Packer: [At a national level], there is a clear political commitment to district heating from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as evidenced by the Heat Network Delivery Unit (HNDU) and the Heat Networks Investment Project (HNIP). This is a real positive. Local authorities are, potentially, the key driver for the wider adoption of decentralised energy. In many local authorities, there is a strong political will to move to a low carbon future in which decentralised energy features strongly.

Q: So, do we have the leaders that we need, in the right places?

Emma Bridge: I think we still have some work to do to make sure that we have the right leaders in the right places. Energy has been so removed from day to day life that it will take a while for that connection and the wider benefits of decentralised energy to be grasped across the board. There are some fantastic examples of this starting to take place though, and I don’t think it will be long until these start to be replicated across the country.

Julian Packer: Political will [at a local level] is often not matched by executive action in terms of implementing supportive robust planning (a notable exception being London with its London Plan). Often, this is in large part due to the fear of setting planning requirements which are unattractive to developers, an understandable concern given the increasingly severe budgetary pressures being experienced by Local Authorities and their not wishing to lose a development to a nearby authority with less stringent requirements.

Q: What skills and competencies need to be developed (and among which types of people) to ensure the success of the decentralised energy revolution?

Julian Packer: Consultants need to improve the quality of the work they undertake; they lack “coal face experience”. There needs to be a standardised approach to financial modelling of schemes – too many bespoke models are produced. Likewise, streamlined procurement and contractual frameworks are required – too many projects “reinvent the wheel”. Local authorities need more embedded expertise in order to be effective, informed clients.

Q: How do we ensure that the customer is protected in a highly localised energy system?

Emma Bridge: By ensuring that they are engaged in the process. Community energy is a great example of communities “doing energy” rather than energy being done to them. Their knowledge of local people and ability to engage traditionally harder to reach consumers and, where appropriate, turn them into prosumers in unparalleled. Regulation also needs to start to put the consumers first.

Julian Packer: Obviously the Heat Trust provides protection for the private domestic customers of heat networks. Commercial customers are normally protected through contractual provisions, but again some standardisation and sharing of experience would be invaluable. The question we keep encountering is more about providing choice rather than protection. For example, housing developers will insist on providing a gas supply in order to be able to offer gas hobs! Another example: commercial developers still require the installation of gas boilers as this is insisted on by institutional investors.

 Q: What models for local energy are interesting to you at the moment? Who’s doing interesting things?

Julian Packer: Local authority owned, licensed energy supply companies as a catalyst for decentralised energy. Robin Hood Energy and Bristol Energy Company are interesting examples to follow. [Models for] local authority investment into district heating projects are an active interest too, as they provide local authorities with an opportunity to convert capital into long term revenue.

Emma Bridge: Cornwall Council is starting to really explore the role of local energy through its devolution deal. The Energy Local pilot in Wales is developing new systems so that communities can benefit from pooling and using their own generation directly through new relationships with suppliers, smart meters and technology. Plymouth Energy Community is doing excellent work linking generation with addressing fuel poverty. And in the heat world, Kingston Heights in London is using the River Thames to provide renewable heating and hot water to 137 apartments and a hotel. I think we’ll see a lot of innovative and exciting models coming through over the next couple of years with strong ties to the local community.

 

We will be exploring the place of decentralised energy on the local, national and global stages at this year’s Heat Conference.  The conference is hosted by the ADE and the Energy Institute and sponsored by Engie.

Join us on Wednesday 23 November at the Grand Connaught Rooms in London and make your voice heard. We have discounted tickets available for local authorities, others in the public sector, charities and SMEs. Find out more and book your place here.

 

 

 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Heat-Trust-Logo-Plain.pngLast year’s Heat Conference saw the launch of Heat Trust, a stakeholder-led initiative to help consumers have confidence in the service they receive from district heating network operators.

Approaching one year on, Heat Trust now covers 45 heat networks with over 25,000 customers.

We caught up with Bindi Patel, Director of Heat Trust, to see how things have moved on in the past year:

 

Q: What’s been the reaction from the sector?

Really positive!  There is a growing recognition that, in order for the sector to grow, sector-wide standards are needed so that customers are protected and have confidence that their heating and hot water service is comparable to the rest of the energy market. Equivalence in the service offered to customers is important, particularly given that customers are unable to shop around.  If the market is going to benefit from public funding to reduce investment risk, it should be able to meet minimum customer service and protection standards.

 

Q: And what’s been the reaction from customers?

Around 40 customers have made use of the Ombudsman service so far, which is fantastic. It shows that customers are actively making use of the service that Heat Trust has put in place. Customers can, for the first time, refer their dispute to an independent third party who can look at both sides and provide recommendations based on the facts presented.

 

Q: How has the Trust helped to improve what the sector offers?

 

  • Putting customers first: Heat Trust has helped highlight the need to improve performance and to give customers a service that is equivalent to any other customer in the energy market. In particular, it has also highlighted to heat suppliers the need to tailor their service to their customers, for example, customers who need additional support or are vulnerable.
  • Helps put industry on the path towards better regulation: This is a sector that has very little, if any, standardisation in the service it provides customers. Heat Trust provides a framework towards industry standardisation that is common in other regulated market sectors.
  • Improving the sector’s reputation: By helping suppliers to adopt consistent service standards and providing access to the independent Energy Ombudsman, Heat Trust is helping to protect the reputation of the sector as well as raising the profile of district heating.
  • Increasing transparency in the sector: this is one of our key objectives and we are achieving it in a number of ways: by reporting on the volume and type of complaints that heat networks registered with Heat Trust receive; by requiring independent audits; and by providing a heat cost calculator for customers. Transparency will play a key role in building trust in the sector and improving the sector’s reputation.

 

Q: You mentioned the new heat cost calculator. Tell us a little about that.

It’s always been hard for customers to get a sense of the costs of district heating compared to an alternative.

The Heat Cost Calculator is the first publicly available online tool developed to provide customers living on district heat networks, with an indication of what it would cost to heat a similar sized property using an individual gas boiler.

The Calculator takes the amount of heat a customer uses (or an estimate) and factors in boiler efficiency, repair and maintenance costs, and the cost to replace a boiler at the end of its lifetime.

We are now looking to develop the Calculator further to provide a comparison with electric heating, as this is the most likely alternative for the majority of district heating network customers.

Customers deserve to know what costs go into their bills and we hope the Heat Cost Calculator will encourage industry to ensure they are communicating in a clear and transparent way.

 

Q: What are your plans for the next year?

We’ve made an excellent start by recruiting over 40 heat networks in our first year of operation. Next year, we will be developing the scheme further, particularly for heat networks where heat supplier agreements are not the norm. Our aim is to expand so that any heat network can register with Heat Trust if they are able to meet the standards set by the Scheme.

 

Q: What are the challenges you’ll be facing?

So far, we have focused on schemes where there is a heat supplier agreement between the heat supplier and the customers – it ensures there is a clear document that sets out the terms under which the heat supplier is providing heating and hot water to customers served by the heat network.

However, a lot of existing heat networks do not use heat supply agreements but specify provision of heating and hot water in a leasehold or tenancy arrangement. We will be looking at how Heat Trust can develop to include these schemes. Work is under way and we hope to report on progress soon.

 

Q: How can people get involved with what you’re doing?

We are keen to engage with as many stakeholders as possible. You can get in touch by email at info@heattrust.org or find us at industry events and conferences – including this year’s Heat Conference (Wednesday 23 November, London). We’re always keen to hear views and – of course – to encourage more heat network providers to sign up to the Heat Trust and give their customers the confidence they need.

Our thanks to Bindi Patel, Director, Heat Trust, congratulations on a busy first year and best of luck for the second!

If you would like to know more about Heat Trust or to access the Heat Cost Calculator, please visit www.heattrust.org.

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VitalThe Association for Decentralised Energy Awards 2016 will be presented on Wednesday 23 November at the Natural History Museum, London.

The awards showcase innovation, best practice and achievement across combined heat and power, district heating and demand response and energy services, providing an opportunity for organisations and professionals to celebrate success and collective attainment.

The Awards Judges met in September 2016 and shortlisted the following entries:

Industrial Project of the Year - sponsored by Ricardo Energy and Environment Ricardo

  • Edina UK - Welsh Power
  • ENER-G - Muntons Anaerobic Digestion Plant, Stowmarket
  • Estover Energy - Speyside Renewable Energy Partnership
  • Open Energi - Aggregate Industries
  • Viridor – Runcorn Energy from Waste

Commercial / Public Sector Project of the Year

  • Bosch Commercial and Industrial / BUPA UK – Caring for the Environment
  • Edina – Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow
  • Edina – University of Warwick
  • ENER-G – Places for People Leisure
  • Engie – Coventry District Energy Company
  • ESP Energy – Portmeirion Biomass District Heating Scheme
  • Eurosite Power – Kingfisher Leisure Centre, Sudbury
  • London Borough of Southwark / Veolia – SELCHP

Homes and Communities Project of the Year

  • British Gas – BGreen, Oldham
  • E.ON Energy Solutions – Cranbrook and Skypark, Exeter
  • SSE – Elmsbrook, North West Bicester

Consultancy Project of the Year - sponsored by Clarke Energy Clarke Energy

  • Arup, partnering with Lux Nova Partners, Mazars and Willis Towers Watson - Heat Network Detailed Project Development Resource: Guidance on Strategic and Commercial Case
  • Carbon Alternatives – Hinksey Heat, Oxford
  • FairHeat – Octavia Housing, Elizabeth House
  • TUV SUD Wallace Whittle – Trafalgar Place, Southwark, London

Integrated Energy Award

  • Edina / E.ON – Citigen, London
  • Edina / E.ON – Myatt’s Fields, London
  • Vital Energi – Cheltenham Hospital

Innovation Award

  • ENER-G Ultra Low NOx CHP range
  • PassivSystems – Network Optimisation Through Intelligent Control Execution (NOTICE)
  • REStore – Flexpond
  • Switch2 Energy – Incontro 
  • Vital Efficienci – VitalECS (Energy Controls Solution)

Customer Engagement Award

  • Clarke Energy / Barts Health NHS Trust – Pink Power
  • Edina – Welsh Power
  • Eurosite Power – Haverhill Leisure Centre
  • Switch2 Energy – Sheffield City Council

EdinaThe Awards will be presented on Wednesday 23 November at a gala dinner at the Natural History Museum in London. A Lifetime Achievement Award – sponsored by Edina - and an overall Project of the Year Award will also be presented.

You can book tickets for the ADE Awards Dinner here.

 

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The Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE) and Vital Energi are delighted to announce that this year’s ADE Awards Dinner will be held at the Natural History Museum in London, marking the tenth anniversary of the Museum’s trigeneration scheme.

The ADE Awards celebrate the best in district heating, combined heat and power and demand side management. The Awards showcase real projects delivering energy cost savings, economic growth and carbon reductions to businesses and communities across the country.

“The Natural History Museum is a great place to celebrate the achievements of decentralised energy,” said Tim Rotheray, Director of the ADE. “Last year alone the Museum saved just under £1million on its energy bills through its partnership with Vital Energi and millions of visitors have benefited as a result.”

Vital Energi, sponsors of this year’s ADE Awards Dinner, are celebrating ten years working with the Natural History Museum. Its pioneering trigeneration scheme delivers heating, cooling and power to the museum, ensuring that priceless exhibits are kept in optimum conditions and that visitors have a great and comfortable experience.

Gary Fielding, Joint Managing Director at Vital Energi, commented, “We are honoured to sponsor this year’s ADE Awards. They do a fantastic job of spotlighting the outstanding work being done to reduce carbon emissions and generate more affordable energy. Hosting the awards at the Natural History Museum is a great way to celebrate the tenth anniversary of their trigeneration scheme and successful approach of achieving long term carbon and financial savings.”

Past ADE Award winners have ranged from district heating networks providing affordable warmth to low incomes households, to industrial energy centres reducing energy costs and boosting productivity, to innovative control systems and leading edge software ensuring that our energy system works as efficiently and effectively as possible.

The 2016 ADE Awards are now open for entries. The deadline for entries is Thursday 30 June. Full details of the awards and how to enter can be found at http://heatconference.co.uk/index.php/awards.

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by Liz Warren, SE2

There has been much talk recently about devolution: greater powers for nations and increased budgetary control and scope for cities and counties too. But what are the implications of devolution for heat?


 

Let’s consider the story of Scotland: in June 2015, the Scottish Government published its Heat Policy Statement, which aims to remove almost all carbon from the heat system by 2050. Figures announced in October 2015 show that renewable heat generation has increased by 36% in just one year, with almost 10,000 micro renewable heat systems up and running.

Nationally driven policy and programmes have certainly helped. The Home Renewables Loan Scheme, the Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme and support from Resource Efficiency Scotland are all driven by the Scottish Government. If anything, UK policy uncertainty is putting the brakes on further development.

Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing, quoted in Holyrood Magazine, said: “We are committed in helping support households and business across become more energy efficient and use more low carbon and renewable heat sources.

“There is however continuing uncertainty about the Renewable Heat Incentive, which the UK Government have not commitment to beyond March 2016. We will continue to press for commitment to the long term sustainability of the RHI beyond next year to provide confidence for funders and stimulate investment in renewable heat technologies.”

Elsewhere, devolution discussions carry on apace. In Greater Manchester, district heating is already very much on the agenda, with several authorities undertaking development work supported by the national Heat Network Delivery Unit, an example of a national programme supporting heat in a devolved future world.  The devolution of health budgets to Greater Manchester could provide an interesting link into the rollout of affordable and lower carbon heat sources particularly to fuel poor households or those more at risk from living in cold homes.

Cornwall is at the vanguard of county-level devolution discussions. Alastair Mumford of Regen SW told us:

“Overall devolution should enable Cornwall to develop initiatives better fitting with local resources and issues, developing synergies between council and government priorities. The devolution package states agreement by government and the council to investigate how local and neighbourhood plans can support local ownership models, including heat networks.  The deal references a ‘community heat pilot’ and the council has an excellent track record in supporting community renewable electricity.

“The deal should help the council in setting up a Low Carbon Enterprise Zone which aspires to develop geothermal, an important priority for the area, and other renewable technologies.  The scheme could see new build and retrofit heat networks as well as attracting in industries with high heat demands.”

Devolution is not the same as divorce: Mumford believes that while devolution helps councils to shape policies that best fit their geography, there is also opportunity for closer engagement with Government Departments. And there are things which are best driven at the national scale. Says Mumford:

“Change in basic infrastructure such as the way we generate heat does require an overall national framework to drive down costs and risks. If we end up with regions pushing forward with initiatives that are specific to their area and don’t join up, they won’t create an overall market that the supply chain can react to and invest in. Whilst devolution is a positive opportunity for renewable heat, therefore, we do not think government can simply wash its hands of the need to provide that framework.”

As Scotland and Cornwall are both demonstrating, a clear ambition and policy statement can make all the different. Alastair Mumford explains:

“Devolution can dramatically improve low carbon heat in an area but it needs to go hand-in-hand with a detailed strategy.  This strategy needs to be developed with the community and reflect best practice within and outside the region. The strategy needs to enable the supply chain to develop its skills and capacity.”

Greater Manchester meanwhile has carried out extensive citywide heat mapping and through its Energy Plan has identified how changes in energy generation and supply can contribute to the City-Region’s ambition to reduce CO2 emissions by 48% by 2020 compared to 1990.

The future of heat is local – district heating networks and local renewable heat generation are starting to feature more and more in our energy mix – though they have a long way to go! Devolution can help place the power to deliver change in the hands of local communities, though it will be interesting to see how this is balanced with national enthusiasm for developing fracking and our ongoing commitments to a robust and interconnected gas network.

How will all the pieces of the puzzle fit together? Join the debate at the Heat Conference on Wednesday 25 November to have your say. You can book your place at www.heatconference.co.uk.

 

 

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By Professor Jim Skea CBE FEI, President – Energy Institute, Research Council’s UK Energy Strategy Fellow and Professor of Sustainable Energy at the Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College


 Energy decision-making is widely varied. There are mega-decisions about nuclear reactors, gigawatt-scale offshore wind farms and interconnectors that criss-cross the North Sea. Then there are the literally millions of decisions, each modest in itself, which collectively shape energy needs and markets. Policymakers and headline writers love the big stuff. Nevertheless, it is the more humble things which will shape out the energy future and which really challenge policymakers.

“Heat” has become a catch-all term to describe all forms of energy use that are not electricity and not transport – and that’s a very large share of energy demand. There is a tendency to describe heat as a “sector”. Winston Churchill once famously said that India was no more a country than the equator was. Well India is certainly a country now but, in my view, heat is no more a sector than a kettle of boiling water is. And talking about heat markets is also bizarre. There may be some district heating schemes where heat is priced and traded but, for the moment, heat largely stays within the premises where it is generated and used.

It is also odd that the energy labelled “heat” in commercial buildings is more often used to keep us cool. Hence, the not entirely facetious title of this blog – we could really do with a catchy term, which covers the energy needed to keep us comfortable, whether it involves nudging temperatures up or down. “Heat” makes it sound as though policy is all DECC’s job. Something round “buildings” or “built environment” would make it clear that other government departments, notably Communities and Local Government who look after building standards have a rather important role to play.  Suggestions welcome!

One of the consequences of regarding heat as a sector on par with real sectors, such as electricity, is the temptation to mimic policy mechanisms that work well where there are functioning markets, c.f. the complexity of the Green Deal. Smaller consumers do not make decisions with the same degree of sophistication as finance officers in major utility companies – and nor should they. If we want to promote energy efficiency and renewable heat then simple, understandable rules and incentives are needed. I was talking to a Swede yesterday who pointed out that Scandinavians value simplicity in all things from furniture design to energy policy. They look with bemusement at the elaborate mechanisms that the UK uses to shape electricity markets and energy consumption patterns.

So where does this rather grumpy rant take us? First, I think we need a holistic approach to keeping people comfortable in indoor environments. It is basically about minimising energy use and maximising inputs from environmentally sustainable energy sources. Second, a joined-up vision of where we are going would help. Top-down views of UK low carbon energy futures suggest a big role for heat pumps for example – but it is fair to say many energy professionals remain sceptical.  Every time an old boiler is replaced by a modern combi boiler we lose the hot water tank – the cheapest form of energy storage for buildings – that would be needed to get heat pumps installed. Are we locking ourselves out of a low carbon future in the longer-term for more incremental gains in the short term? Finally, we need rules and incentives that match the needs of households and businesses and the way they make decisions. When DECC presses control-alt-delete on energy policy after the Spending Review is concluded, let’s hope “heat” is one of the areas that gets the attention it deserves.

 

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We asked Lesley Rudd, Policy and Public Affairs Manager of the Sustainable Energy Association, for her views on the policy landscape for renewable heat. The Sustainable Energy Association (SEA) is a member based industry body offering innovative policy solutions that link up building-level technologies and the wider energy system to achieve a low carbon, secure energy future for the UK, benefits for UK consumers, and commercial growth for businesses working in the sector.


 Over the last few months - as disappointing announcements relating to the low carbon sector have been made - we have had calls from concerned members asking for advice.  Policies causing immediate impact on business include:

  • The end of further funding to the Green Deal Finance company
  • The scrapping of the Zero Carbon Homes scheme
  • DECC consulting on ending Renewable Obligation support for solar farms
  • DECC consulting on huge reductions in Feed in Tariff payments and huge reductions in the overall budget.

These announcements have caused considerable uncertainty in the market place and are having an immediate impact on business, with both investors and potential customers getting cold feet (excuse the pun)!

The proposed considerable reductions in the feed-in-tariff for solar PV is impacting businesses in the low carbon heating sector as  there is a knock-on effect which pervades other business activities and other businesses.  Customers are unwilling to close orders because those announcements already made have created a pessimistic outlook for them, pending new policies being announced on heat policy and energy efficiency (both of which Amber Rudd has indicated will not be concluded until after the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement).

Businesses are now facing the  very real prospect that customers, with whom they  have been in contractual discussions for some time, are considering pulling out as they are concerned that the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme (RHI) will close before contracts are in place, leaving their  investment facing fiscal uncertainty.

The SEA supports the Government’s aim to ensure value for money for the taxpayer and avoid cost overruns in its policies.  However, we believe that the cuts proposed to the FIT regime and rumoured to the RHI will be counterproductive for the Government’s long term economic plan.  We agree that subsides should be phased out over time and should only be in place for a period necessary to allow new industries to compete effectively.  However, there is a real risk that if the investment in a permanently lower future cost base for the provision of our country’s energy is removed before the transition to competitiveness is complete, not only will we lock the country in to a higher energy cost than necessary for the long term, but we will also render stranded the good work and public funds that have been invested so far. The RHI is a national investment which will lead to a more cost effective heating market tomorrow. Removal or significant cuts to the RHI now will hinder our efforts to reduce costs and negate much of the Government and industry’s investment to date.

We believe bringing industry and Government together to find a solution is the way forward.  To this end, the SEA has carried out a significant amount of modelling to assess the value for money delivered by government policies such as the RHI compared to other alternatives and to identify ways in which the scheme could be improved to cost less and deliver more.  

Much has already been achieved by industry and Government working together to develop a market and a supply chain for renewable products - so let’s finish the job. As the market develops, volumes increase, costs and emissions reduce, customers get cheaper energy and the UK gets a sustainable industry with lower costs locked in for the future, thereby permanently reducing future needs for imported fossil fuels, and providing the most cost-effective way of meeting the Conservative manifesto commitment to meet the carbon budgets set under the Climate Change Act.  A win-win!

 Our thanks to Lesley Rudd, Policy and Public Affairs Manager at the Sustainable Energy Association.


 

 You can have your say on renewable heat at the Heat Conference on Wednesday 25 November - click here to book your place.

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Posted by on in Heat 2015

By Casey Cole, Managing Director of Guru Systems

At the beginning of this year we were given the green light to conduct feasibility studies into technology to improve the energy efficiency of district heat networks.

Nine months on and we have successfully moved beyond proposals and concepts, and in May were awarded a share of a £7 million fund to put our plans into action by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

It was a pivotal moment for the company and the team.

Our core team has worked for many years in the decentralised energy sector and we were champing at the bit to put our plans into action.

As a company we have worked with landlords and developers across the UK to ensure they can monitor their networks and bill tenants correctly for the energy they use. For tenants, the Guru Hub works as a pay as you go and energy monitoring device, whereas for developers it provides a way to measure incoming energy, heat produced and used across the networks – as well as being able to see any drops in efficiency.

Our DECC project takes our diagnostic capabilities to the next level.

Heat network operators have generally suffered from a lack of data about how their networks are performing. And in those cases where they’ve managed to extract data from their systems, it’s often been difficult to interpret. As a result, good practice in the UK heat market hasn’t evolved as quickly as it should.

We’re attempting to radically speed up the development of the market by building tools for operators to understand and analyse their own energy performance data and, importantly, share that data with each other.

Using innovative machine learning algorithms to analyse the large data sets that come from heat networks, our systems will put the power back in the hands of operators and lower the cost of tenants’ bills thanks to the improvements that can then be made in the networks’ efficiency.

Early results from the four heat networks where we’re trialling the technology have been hugely positive. Working with operators, we’ve used the outputs of our system to identify cost effective changes that are significantly improving network performance. By the end of the project, we expect to have reduced input fuel use on the trial sites by between 33 and 51 percent. This can equate to an average saving of £179 per home per year.

If this technology was rolled out to heat networks across the UK we could save £400 million in reduced energy costs in 10 years.

These figures are astounding and give an indication of just how much value there is to be had in improving performance of heat networks.

Not only are we looking to save tenants money, we are also working with leading developers and affordable housing providers to help them anonymously share key performance data – including return temperatures and peak loads – while complying with the Data Protection Act and our own strict data sharing policies.

It was important for us, as part of this project, to encourage a flow of information. Not just between operators, but with suppliers and consultants as well.

For example, many designers of heat networks never see their systems in action and have no idea of how well (or poorly!) they perform in real life. For this reason, we believe it’s just as important to share data with network designers as it is to share with operators. Otherwise, they don’t learn from real world outcomes and improve design on their next project.

It’s an exciting time for the innovation of heat networks and we are just one of eight schemes receiving this funding from DECC

This year in particular has been a landmark one for the sector, with CIBSE and the ADE publishing a Code of Practice which will ensure minimum standards on new networks. But standards aren’t enough on their own.

The old maxim that you can’t improve what you don’t measure is especially true in the heat sector. The evolution of the UK heat market will depend on the effective extraction, analysis and sharing of data by heat network operators and other stakeholders and we hope to do our part in making this happen.

 

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  • Marko Cosic
    Marko Cosic says #
    Nice one Casey; cracking results there. :-) Do we get to find out who dropped the biggest clangers then? Was it the designers (M&
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Last year, the innovative combined heat and power and ground source heat pump system installed at Notre Dame Primary School was celebrated at the ADE's annual awards dinner.  One year on, we spoke to Bob McNair from Glasgow City Council to find out more about how this innovative system has benefitted the school's community.

In 2013, Notre Dame Primary School and Ellie Nursery installed five mini combined heat and power (CHP) units, to work in tandem with a ground source heat pump (GSHP) and thermal storage. This past year, the ground source heat pumps were at 50% of the heating and hot water capacity, with the CHPs running for around 4500 hours.

Having a flexible system and using complimentary technologies have been and will be a real benefit to the school in the years to come.

"Over the last two years occupancy hours have increased by over 50%, and the CHP system has been able to facilitate these changes with ease....With small scale CHP there is no need to modulate the engine output, the system runs in response to the heating controls without any issues."

The ability of the CHPs and the GSHPs to work in tandem was critical to the success of the installation.

"Last winter all five CHP units were readjusted to run continuously up to 23hours per day to ensure a consistent supply of heat and hot water. Now that RHI metering is in place, the school can reduce the heat input from the CHPs by 40% and in turn increase the use of the GSHP. This small change in how the heat and hot water is produced means the school will benefit more from the Renewable Heat Incentive without changing the level of comfort."

Generating its own heat and power gives the school a certain level of future proofing against rising gas and electricity prices.


"When gas prices increase, in the years to come, this school need not rely on the “standby” gas fuelled boilers installed in the school. It can generate is own heat and electrical power without using either boilers or GSHPs.  Conversely, when the renewable level of electricity production reaches a peak, the GSHPs can contribute more heat and hot water than the CHPs."  

Carbon emissions are also an important metric for the school.

"Despite the change in occupancy hours the carbon emissions from the school have been below that of other well managed schools in Glasgow. With the changes made for next year the CO2 levels at Notre Dame Primary School and Ellie Nursery will be far lower.”

Finally, the school community love the new refurbished old school and new 5 storey extension and are proud of the low carbon system!

"The kids and parents love the school with its renewable system. The school is Victorian and even has the same cast iron radiators, albeit refurbished, that their great, great, great grandparents saw in 1894."

 

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  • Bob McNair
    Bob McNair says #
    Just one slight error - the GSHPs contributed 50% of the GSHP capacity and not 50% of the heat required for the building as mentio
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District heating is making a comeback! These heating systems are winning support from the Government, landlords and planners alike as we look for energy-efficient alternatives to conventional heating systems. Casey Cole, Managing Director at Guru Systems, explains how modern-day technology is helping to reignite enthusiasm for district heat.

District heat is enjoying a renaissance.

Having been all but confined to history after the demise of the ‘streets in the sky’ building programme of the 60s and 70s, many are now turning to modern day district heat networks as a long-term solution to providing low-carbon energy to our housing stock.

It is more than 50 years since the concept was first introduced in the UK, and the mistakes of the past have been well documented.

Today, however, the landscape couldn’t be more different.

New technology, with the support of Government financing, means that district heat is now a reliable source of energy that is increasingly easy to monitor and manage.  

The Department of Energy and Climate Change estimates that 14% of UK heat demand could be cost effectively met by heat networks by 2030, with the figure rising to 43% by 2050. While in the capital, the Mayor of London has set out plans for 25 per cent of heat and power used in London to be generated through the use of localised decentralised energy systems by 2025.

Planners are similarly championing its use in new housing developments, particularly in London, as they promote an “eco-first” approach to planning permission.  

Robin Feeley, Director of L&Q Energy, which manages 2,000 homes on 33 district heat networks across London and the south east, said: “In London in particular, district heat is no longer a choice, it is a necessity and as developers, housing association are having to adapt and fast.

“The technology developed to monitor these networks has come on leaps and bounds in the last few years and in many ways housing associations are leading the way in implementing these advancements and pioneering new technology, including smart meters.”

The 21st century district heat schemes benefits have been widely publicised, as energy is distributed from a central hub, rather than from boilers in individual properties, heat networks are more energy efficient than conventional heating systems and allow landlords to supply low cost heat to their tenants.

The challenges

Heat networks are notoriously difficult to administer, especially as landlords are not allowed to make a profit from the energy they sell to their tenants. If they charge too much they face legal challenges, if they charge too little they could lose money every time a tenant turns on their heating.

In most cases landlords will set tariffs based on the expected performance of the system – not on real world data that shows how well the network is actually working. This means that if initial assumptions are inaccurate, or there is a sudden dip in efficiency through a fault in the network, costs for landlord could spiral rapidly.

At Guru, we have seen cases of a 100-home scheme losing £65k in 14 months, simply because their tariff had assumed a much better efficiency than was achieved in practice.

The landlord billed their residents every month according to aggregate consumption, but they had not had access to performance data and so did not know their tariff was wrong.

The technology

With landlords having to take on the unfamiliar role of energy provider – and facing a raft of technical and legal ramifications – housing professionals are mixing traditional ideas with new technology to bring district heat into the modern age.

Robin Feeley continues: “We spent five years refining our district heat networks to the point where we have a produced a technical specification for our networks. At first, like I am sure many housing associations were, we relied heavily on contractors to specify what we needed.

“Since first installing district heat networks, technology has transformed the way we deliver and monitor the energy we provide to our tenants, to such an extent that we are now revisiting earlier developments to install smart meters where previously we had old-fashioned prepayment meters.”

The majority of landlords have no way of knowing how well their networks are running as the data is collected monthly, rather than being logged minute-by-minute. While many recognise the need to provide cost-effective heating to their residents, the majority have no way of reviewing efficiencies on their networks.

Although older heat meters provide essential data, most of it remains unused due to antiquated data collection systems. Some operators of district heat networks rely on customers to provide readings or send an operative with a radio receiver to collect readings from each meter, while others are using the 20-year-old technology to transmit data on usage from individual homes.

These basic methods mean that if landlords are calculating their tariffs incorrectly or networks are not running efficiently, they can suffer huge financial losses in the months between meter readings.

Today housing associations can monitor key information on how the network is performing – from the central plant right through to each individual’s home – meaning landlords can quickly identify any issues in the network long before costs mount up.

By delivering real-time information on energy usage and payments, smart meters allow registered providers to identify and focus resources on vulnerable residents who are in fuel poverty and in immediate need of support.

The technology to manage and monitor heat networks is constantly advancing. Guru Systems recently won funding from the Department of Energy and Climate Change to develop an algorithm to evaluate the efficiency of schemes.

Using innovative algorithms that build on techniques developed for Big Data applications, the technology will be able to recognise patterns in performance data and identify the likely source of any inefficiency on networks.

As well as identifying the problem, the new system will also propose solutions ranked by cost-effectiveness, while machine learning will ensure the algorithm’s accuracy continues to improve the more data it analyses.

Guru Systems has seen its technology installed on 35 schemes across the UK for landlords including, L&Q, Affinity Sutton, Octavia Housing, and Peabody Trust, and private developers, such as Berkeley and Telford Homes.

Casey Cole is Managing Director of Guru Systems, which provides smart payment and energy-efficiency technology systems for local energy networks 


 This feature was originally published in the April edition of Housing Association and Building Maintenance Magazine. To read more great articles, visit www.habmonline.co.uk

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By Casey Cole, Guru Systems

Casey Cole is Managing Director of Guru Systems. He blogs on low carbon at carbonlimited.co.uk and tweets on @carbonltd.


 

Metering and billing (M&B) is often seen as a necessary but rather dull cog in the district heating machine. For many heat network operators, heat metering is nothing more than a tool for ensuring customers are billed for the heat they consume. But it’s far more important than that. Heat metering can be used to monitor network efficiency, which can spell life or death for district heating schemes. Unfortunately, getting this performance data out of heat meters isn’t always easy.

On most district heating networks, an internal or external M&B team will collect aggregate consumption data once a month and use it to generate bills. Aggregate consumption figures can be useful, but heat meters can tell us a lot more. In fact, they can tell us almost everything we need to know about the technical performance of district heating schemes, including flow rates and flow and return temperatures in each flat, on key network branches and within plant rooms. Armed with this information, network operators can pinpoint problems and inefficiencies, and ensure networks deliver “lean heat.”

Many landlords and energy services companies (ESCOs) already recognise the importance of high efficiencies and lean heat. For landlords, lean heat means providing value for money, especially to the fuel poor. For commercial ESCOs, it means delivering profit margins while maintaining reasonable prices. But without data on system performance neither aim can be achieved. Without good data, network operators are flying blind, with the potential for even small schemes to lose staggering amounts of money. A 100-home scheme we assisted recently had managed to lose £65k in 14 months, simply because their tariff had assumed a much better efficiency than was achieved in practice. They’d billed their residents every month according to aggregate consumption, but they hadn’t had access to performance data and so didn’t know their tariff was wrong.

While heat meters can provide essential data, most of it stays locked up in the meter because of antiquated data collection systems. Some operators rely on customers to provide their own meter readings or they send an operative to walk round sites with a radio receiver to collect readings from each meter. Most schemes use an M-bus system to collect data. Based on a 20-year old German standard, M-bus networks are designed for periodically collecting aggregate consumption data over a 2-wire bus. While these various methods have the benefit of simplicity, they’re not up to the job of providing real-time performance data to DH operators.

More intelligent methods of data collection are needed. One method is to connect ordinary heat meters to networked smart meters, as we’ve done with Octavia Housing and Insite Energy in Wembley. While these smart meters are usually part of a pay-as-you-go utility system for residents, the fact that they’re networked means we can use them to extract real-time performance data from the heat meters. This transforms the ordinary heat meters from unintelligent counters, simply totting up aggregate consumption, into the foundation of a hugely valuable performance monitoring system.

By also connecting the smart metering system to the heat and gas meters in the plant room, we can get a complete picture of plant and network efficiency. The operator can immediately see whether the network is providing lean heat, not just as monthly aggregates but hourly across the days, weeks and seasons. Moreover when technicians make changes, such as closing bypasses or tweaking controls, the effects on network efficiency are clearly visible. This allows operators to achieve higher efficiencies and, crucially, maintain them.

In the past, heat metering has been little more than a tool used by the M&B team to generate bills. But heat meters can do a lot more for us. By connecting heat meters to a more modern network, we can obtain invaluable performance data and ensure that we are delivering lean heat. 

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  • AP
    AP says #
    Heat networks can lLose upto 50% of the energy input ed to it therefore metering end demand consuption is key in driving network
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It has long been apparent that local authorities have a central role to play in the delivery of heat networks. But for many years, challenges around resources, capacity and funding meant that a lot of authorities simply couldn’t get started. The introduction of DECC’s Heat Networks Delivery Unit in September 2013 was supposed to change all that. We talked to John Saunders, Commercial Specialist within the Unit, about the difference it’s making, and what local authorities can expect when they call on the Unit for help.

It’s been a busy year for the Unit. What have you achieved so far?
In just a year, we have issued three rounds of funding, worth £7.1m, and we’re now working with 95 local authorities to support 130 heat network projects.

So what does your support enable authorities to do?
Simply put, the grant funding means that local authorities can buy in the expertise that they need.

But it’s the one-to-one support we provide that often makes the biggest difference. We can help people who may never have worked on heat networks before to become more intelligent clients, planning and structuring their projects so that the chances of success are increased. We can also help officers to clearly understand and communicate what they need from the experts that they commission.

Can you tell us about some of the projects you’re supporting?
There has clearly been a great deal of interest in our support and this has not been limited by geographies. HNDU has engaged with Local Authorities right the way across the country. An important aspect to highlight is that funding has not just been focused on the large urban areas; we’re working with some exciting schemes in rural parts of the country too.

A number of these projects are looking to take advantage of innovative heat sources. For example, Islington are looking at waste heat from an electricity substation, Birmingham from its canals, Allerdale from minewater, several from geothermal and Cardiff and Exeter from waste operations.

Whilst each project is different there are some aspects of the project which come up in all project. Questions around ownership, security of supply and guaranteed heat-take are normal. The idea of unbundling generation, transmission and distribution has been talked about for some time and remains attractive in theory. The creation of competition at the wholesale and retail end of a network is appealing and is a possible way both to future-proof in line with coming regulation and ensure that heat customers receive the best service at the most competitive price.

You’ve mentioned some innovative technologies there. What about more traditional technologies like gas?
We get asked about the role of gas CHP in heat networks a lot. Clearly a dependency on gas is less desirable than a lower carbon input fuel like those I’ve mentioned. But the HNDU has taken a technology agnostic stance when considering projects. A gas CHP can be the most viable way to get a network constructed and with a plant life of 15-20 years, there will inevitably be a time when the best available technology will come online.

So, how have local authorities responded to the challenge?
One of the most interest aspects of the work is seeing local authorities assess the role they wish to play in these projects. Some want to be strategic planners, some will be customers, but an increasing number are interested in taking an investment role in the network.

Many of the supported projects are at an early development stage but it is still worthwhile beginning to understand the appetite the Council has for certain roles and the benefits it hopes to see. Many of these benefits are common across projects; carbon savings, energy security, addressing fuel poverty and economic regeneration and it is important to understand which of these can be delivered through private, public or joint ownership and investment.

How is the industry dealing with all of this demand for expertise? It’s still a relatively small sector in the UK.
There has been concern from stakeholders – and from DECC – that the funding we’re providing might have a negative impact on the market, pushing up prices. So far, what we’re seeing is that increased demand has actually made the initial project stages more competitive. Some of this is undoubtedly due to the market taking a longer term view of projects – securing early stage engagement with the hope of increasing the chances of feasibility and design work later on. But there have also been a number of new entrants into the market, whether from overseas, through diversification or through the creation of new business partnerships.

So what next for HNDU and the heat networks sector?
We’re continuing to support our existing group of local authorities as they move through a range of activities, from high level heat mapping and masterplanning to detailed financial and contractual work. No matter what stage of project development a local authority is embarking upon, the aim for us remains the same: to support them to identify the most technically and economically viable heat networks and to help progress the development of these networks.

We’re not resting on our laurels. Round 4 of funding opens in October for six weeks and is another opportunity for DECC support of projects. Our team of HNDU technical and commercial specialists are happy to support and review draft applications before the Round 4 deadline.

We are hosting a series of roadshows for local authorities who might be interested in applying for funding – we’ll be in London on 6 October, Cambridge on 10 October and Leeds on 21 October. Local authorities can find out more and book a place here.


Thanks to John Saunders for telling us more about the work of the HNDU. We recommend heading to one of their workshops or coming to meet them at Heat 2014 on 5 November.

 

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November is coming and with it this year’s Heat Conference. Here at the CHPA, we’re delighted to be working with the Energy Institute again to bring together what has become the focal annual event for the heat industry.

Our theme this year is “lean heat”. We want to understand more about how we meet our need for heat in a cost-effective way. And we want to pose the question: how can we cut waste, manage costs, increase security of supply and meet our carbon targets at the same time?

Planning for this year’s conference began almost immediately after Heat 2013. After a great, sold-out conference and a vibrant CHPA Awards Dinner, we had no time to rest on our laurels. Venues needed to be booked: this year, we’re branching out to two new London locations. And we needed to start thinking about key themes, issues the industry might be facing come November 2014, and voices and faces that could bring those issues to life for our delegates, sponsors and stakeholders.

Since then, we’ve been working hard to bring together an exciting programme of speakers and we’re delighted to have so many top names confirmed. Keep an eye on our programme page and Twitter feed for further announcements.

We have also been working on both the CHPA Awards and the Energy Institute Awards, ensuring recognition for those in the heat and wider energy industry who are achieving great things.

And we’ve been bringing together a great group of sponsors and exhibitors to showcase their own achievements on the day itself. There are still some sponsorship opportunities available, so visit the Sponsorship page or contact Brian McGuire at the CHPA on brian.mcguire@chpa.co.uk for further details.

We’re looking forward to Heat 2014 on Wednesday 5th November. We hope to see you there!

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Last month’s appointment of Stephen Brooks as Investment Director of the Department for Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) new Heat Network Delivery Unit (HNDU) marks an important step towards tackling the challenges that face local authorities and developers seeking to develop district heating networks.

Brook’s appointment comes on the back of DECC’s strategy paper on heat, which identified heat networks as a cost effective solution to providing affordable, low carbon heat in urban areas. Heat networks (also called district heating) take hot water from a local ‘energy centre’ through a network of insulated pipes to homes and businesses. Heat networks are usually more efficient compared to many smaller heat units in each building.

The new unit is designed to support local authorities assessing the opportunity for heat networks by providing funding and expertise in the feasibility stages to bring potential projects to a stage of credible commercial development.   

Following the success of pioneering schemes such as Brook’s own Sheffield Heat and Power (he was a founding member) interest around the country is high, with many councils looking to heat networks to help vulnerable householders afford to keep warm whilst reducing emissions.

Having worked on numerous district heating projects during his time as managing director at Ignus Renewable, Brooks is well placed to help councils deliver local energy projects and move towards the potential of up to 20% of the UK’s homes connecting to heat networks.     

But with just 2 years to allocate the £6 million fund, the biggest challenge his team will face is delivering real results quickly. The first round of bidding is already open and it is now over to Brooks and his team to demonstrate the enormous potential that continued investment in heat networks could deliver.

To hear how HNDU will turn the Government’s heat policy strategy in to shovel ready projects, join us and Stephen Brooks at Heat 2013.


Claire Wych is the Communications Officer for the Combined Heat and Power Association. 

 

 

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The UK’s only heat-specific energy conference

Accounting for half of UK energy demand, affordable heat is vital for industry and householders alike. Heat is too often the Cinderella of the energy debate, but its central role makes it a key consideration if we are to meet our decarbonisation commitments.

Now is its second year, Heat 2013 has been established as the place to debate and explore all aspects of heat.

Organised by the Energy Institute and CHPA, Heat 2013 will bring together, Government policy makers and industry leaders from DECC, National Grid, the Green Investment Bank, Mitsubishi Electric and E.ON, These thought leaders, will explore how we can deliver on the potential for affordable, low carbon heat set out in the Government’s 2013 Heat Strategy.

Join us on Wednesday 27th November as we consider four major themes:

  • How do we put consumers at the centre of the low carbon heat transformation?
  • How can we ensure affordable heat for industry, businesses and householders?
  • How can we achieve vital heat infrastructure investment? What do investors need?
  • What benefits are available by bringing local and central government, industry and householders together in partnerships?

Come, debate, learn and inform. Book your tickets here

Join the conversation on Twitter:  @CHPA_UK  @EnergyInstitute   #Heat13

 


Claire Wych is the Communications Officer for the Combined Heat and Power Association. 

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