18 November 2011
At a conference in London, utilities and energy specialist from WYG, Jason Horner this week described the importance of developers incorporating low-carbon district energy systems as a key activity in the UK transition to a low-carbon economy.
Organised by the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE), and attended by representatives from the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the conference entitled ‘What is the future for CHP and District Heating in the UK?’ formed the launch of a major update to CIBSE's key CHP publication AM12, on the future for CHP and District Heating.
Jason, head of Utilities and Energy at WYG, has been designing and procuring critical water and energy infrastructure to flagship development and regeneration projects for more than 15 years. He believes that the increased use of district energy systems led by combined heat and power (CHP) offers a more affordable method of delivering a low-carbon future because increasing the efficiency of our energy supply infrastructure will ultimately reduce the quantum of expensive, inefficient and largely inflexible, renewable energy technologies.
Jason said: “A low-carbon electricity future will require a vast amount of renewable electricity generation to meet the UK’s demand peaks, so a technology that can store heat when the wind is blowing to heat our homes and businesses, has to be a more sustainable and affordable way of reducing carbon emissions.
“However district energy systems are still in transition from being a largely unknown technology in the UK to becoming a standardised utility service so the whole of the new-build market needs to seek earlier engagement with the energy services marketplace to reduce design and build risks. The engagement of an energy supply company to deliver a multi-million pound energy facility in the middle of a major construction project, when each party doesn’t understand the other party’s commercial drivers, takes considerably more time and resource during pre-planning and preliminary design than a similar project where carbon emissions are mitigated through micro-generation technologies fitted to individual buildings.
“Effectively, developers faced with an uncertain market will opt for the least risk route to building regulation and planning policy compliance. This will likely be improvements in building fabric combined with building integrated renewable micro-generation technologies rather than district heating. In urban areas where district energy is economically viable this is a wasted opportunity but as long as landlords, tenants and other new users believe that the annual billed cost of energy for heat is higher for buildings connected to a low-carbon heat network than for similar premises with solar PV or other micro-generation technologies this practise will continue. A rethink of government backed financial incentives, which currently favour new generation over supply-side and demand-side efficiency is urgently required.”
With established district heating systems in Birmingham, Southampton, Sheffield, Aberdeen, London, Nottingham and Leicester, and development underway in Leeds and Manchester amongst other places the message is starting to get out – district heating networks are one of the most affordable and sustainable ways to reduce carbon emissions.
For further information on the conference visit, http://cibsetraining.co.uk/conferences/single/2613