BRE Wales & partners win DECC funding to develop heat network innovation

BRE Wales & South West and a consortium of partners have won funding from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) under a competition designed to boost innovation in the heat network industry and extend its reach across the UK.

Seventeen proposals were successful under the competition and each will be allocated a share of £1 million to carry out feasibility studies on their proposed innovation.

The consortium which includes BRE, Barden Energy, Bizcat UK, Elgocell, the Home Group (and some of its Cumbrian tenants), will use the capital to look at how viable it is to create a super-efficient district heating network in low rise social housing using innovative Swedish technology.

Typically district heating in the UK is used primarily in high rise dwellings and non-domestic buildings because they have a constant and concentrated heat demand within a small area. Its use in low rise housing remains a challenge because the system’s pipes tend to lose heat over a larger area and don’t work so effectively with lower volume demand.

The partners are exploring the viability of using a new super insulated Swedish district heating system Elgotherm on a low rise housing development in Cumbria. The system can reduce heat losses in pipes by up to 40-50% and works well with low volume demand.

Director of BRE Wales Colin King said:

“We have a great consortium and our goal is clear – we want to match UK technical excellence with Swedish experience and knowhow to identify low cost, low carbon heating solutions for social housing that has broad application potential across the UK. We are confident that this initial study will help secure the next stage of funding from DECC when we can take the project to implementation stage.”

Based on the studies carried out, ten of the seventeen ideas will then be awarded £6 million for development into real world scenarios.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said:

“This competition is all about supporting innovation and progress in the heat industry so we can heat more homes across the UK for less, while at the same time improve energy efficiency and cut the UK’s carbon emissions. More support for local heating projects will also give jobs in the sector a huge boost, with the value of the district and heat network market expected to rise to around £530 million this year.”