In the UK, heat represents approximately 50% of energy demand, yet decarbonisation of heat has not progressed at the rate that has been seen in the electricity system. Over 80% of the buildings that will be around in 2050 already exist today. Therefore, reducing demand for heat through energy efficiency measures and shifting consumers to alternatives to natural gas boilers will be crucial to meet the UK and Scottish Governments declared net zero targets of 2050 and 2045 respectively. 300 out of 404 (74%) District, County, Unitary & Metropolitan Councils have declared Climate Emergencies as have 8 Combined Authorities/City Regions and they will play a key role in planning and implementing the programmes of investment and infrastructure systems that enable heat decarbonisation.
Ramboll has supported many local authorities and councils to develop citywide solutions to heat decarbonisation, from setting their vision, to mapping the opportunities and creating tactical solutions for implementation.
In Edinburgh, Dundee and Perth we have created a vision for district heating networks and in 2013 we mapped a large number of tactical heat network interventions for Manchester City Council. With heat networks, integration is critical to delivering the greatest benefit, and for a number of cities and developers we have examined combinations of heat networks and individual building solutions to deliver heat decarbonisation.
In Cowdenbeath Ramboll supported BEIS in an assessment of heat decarbonisation options for the town including heat pumps, hydrogen and district heating. Through this work we have developed a methodology that focuses on sector and zonal approaches to heat decarbonisation. This approach creates outcomes for our clients that enable them to visualise the tactical interventions and technological solutions to heat decarbonisation for both existing zones of the city and proposed zones for development. The implementation requires policy design and we have advised on options to incentivise developers and consumers to connect to low carbon utility infrastructure. Options such as mandatory connections could be considered, or connection unless the developer can prove that the district energy solution is not cost effective through standardised city planning tools.
Our work in the UK to support these policy and tactical approaches include:
- Supporting Local Authorities design planning policies and powers to require implementation of heat decarbonisation solutions that are consistent with the strategy.
- Create citywide heat plans that includes a cross-sector review of infrastructure investment to safeguard and combine low carbon heat infrastructure in critical routes and utility crossings such as new public transport and cycle infrastructure as we have done for Edinburgh.
- Undertake planned maintenance and refurbishments to safeguard Council Owned property and work with property owners such as Social Housing Landlords and NHS so that they are consistent with a strategy for heat decarbonisation
- Work with existing District Heat Network operators as we have with E.On and Vattenfall to connect into citywide infrastructure and share/balance heat supply and support their works to decarbonise.
- Work with planned District Heat Network projects as we have in East London to safeguard the design and provide supportive policy for expansion of networks
- Identifying and integrating other potential low carbon heat opportunities such as we have in Stirling with heat from sewers, heat from energy from waste in Kent and Leeds and heat from industry in Edinburgh.
Our work across the UK has helped councils and local authorities to have a clear path for heat decarbonisation, establish methodologies that will ensure city-wide systems are integrated at the point when it is most cost effective, developed policies that will ensure effective implementation and ultimately paved the way to connect people to low carbon, low cost heating.