District Heating & Heat Networks

Key Points

  • The development of heat networks is seen in the UK as an important component in the UK’s future energy strategy.
  • Potential to increase buildings served by heat networks from 2% up to 14-43% by 2050.
  • With few exceptions, planning authorities require heat networks, or district heating, to be considered at the design stage of any new residential or commercial development.
  • Heat networks reduce greenhouse gases through the use of a wide range of low carbon and renewable energy heat sources.
  • Heat networks improve the security of energy supply by diversifying energy sources and reducing dependence on fossil fuel imports.
  • Heat networks offer a supply of heat that is good value and that contributes to reducing fuel poverty.


Planning considerations.  Planning requirements directed by increasing numbers of local planning authorities require property developers to demonstrate carbon emissions from completed developments will be better than Building Regulatory requirements.


Legislation impact.  Multiple pieces of legislation will impact on heat network planning, examples of which include:

Health and Safety;

Planning – Local and National;

Building Regulations;

New Road and Street Works Act;

EU Energy Efficiency Directive;

Water Supply (Water Fitting) Regulations;

The Electricity Act;

Renewable Heat Incentive and Feed in Tariffs; and

EU Emissions trading System;


Types of Heat Networks.  The following types of development have the potential to benefit from heat networks:

Single Building Communal Heating;

New developments;

Existing ‘self-contained’ sites; and

Existing urban areas.


Overcoming and addressing legacy preconceptions.  Industry concerns in the specific areas of high heat loses, operating temperatures being too high, poorly sized plant and poor customer experience can be broadly attributed to the adoption by developers of a standard rather than project specific building services approach.


With the support of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Association of Decentralised Energy and the Chartered institution of Building Services Engineers, a Heat Network Code of Practice has been produced and adopted, with a register of het network professionals created to address legacy preconceptions and issues.


West London Energy Assessors can provide trained professionals to support the assessment of feasibility, design, construction and installation, commissioning, and operation and maintenance, and additionally provide impartial validation and assessment of proposed projects.