Helping you make sense of the energy and water sectors


Pixie Chart of the Week


Key lessons from European heat networks

Stuart Leaver Analyst

As the electricity sector decarbonises, policy makers and advisers are increasingly focusing on decarbonisation of the heat sector. This has been embodied by multiple consultations on the topic, such as Net Zero – The UK’s contribution to stopping global warming from the Committee on Climate Change, and a promise to amend the Climate Change Act 2008 to achieve net zero by 2050. One of the most promising technologies in the short term is heat networks, which supply heat from a central source through a network to multiple end users. They are a low-regrets option for supplying low-carbon heat, and a potential target for investment. Carbon produced from heat is the single largest contributor to overall emissions with 166mtCO2e emitted in 2018 in the UK, the equivalent of ~35% of all UK emissions (449 mtCO2e) according to BEIS. The majority of energy used in heating is delivered by the gas network, with 297TWh of natural gas consumed for domestic heating purposes in 2017. The use of an alternative heating source such as Biomass or Anaerobic Digestion over a large network could help reduce reliance on gas and associated emissions if spread nationally. Other countries in Europe, such as Germany and Sweden, have more mature heat network industries. As shown in Figure 1, both nations have a significantly larger proportion of alternative heating sources, which in turn are lower carbon emitters. Sweden, with 51% of heat supplied via district heating, and 38% from electricity, is leading the way. Both countries, alongside the Netherlands, have different heat-based policies ...

This is a subscription product

If you are a subscriber please log in.

For more information or to subscribe
please contact us

Who we work for