UKDEA Media Release
The UK District Energy Association Looks to the Future of District Energy
25th November 2010
This November has seen a number of important developments which concern the future of district energy, the first of which was the release of DECC’s new annual business plan[i].
DECC’s Business Plan
The business plan marks out a new approach for DECC who will now prioritise support for the technologies that are most “effective” at meeting their objectives. The plan states:
The Department will no longer … fund technologies unless we are confident that they are the most critical to meeting long-term decarbonisation and energy security objectives.
Exactly what material changes this will entail remains to be seen but it is unlikely to result in a particularly prescriptive approach from DECC, whose central tenet of delivering energy security is a diverse energy system, not a system reliant on any single technology or solution.
The UKDEA expect that this new pragmatism will work significantly to the advantage of district energy, because it offers a long term decarbonisation and energy security approach at the local level. Because district energy is not locked to any particular form of low carbon energy generation (often referred to as “fuel agnostic”), it offers a reliable means of future-proofing energy supplies for a diverse range of energy consumers.
Renewables targets remain in place, as part of the UK’s binding European climate targets. However, it has been clear for some time that renewables are only a part of the solution and cannot be relied upon in isolation to meet the UK’s demanding greenhouse gas emission reduction targets:
- 34% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020,
- 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Therefore, significant parallel efforts on energy savings and efficiency measures are required, including non-renewable forms of low carbon generation.
New Code for Sustainable Homes
The importance of non-renewable low carbon generation and district energy was reinforced by the recent release of the updated Code for Sustainable Homes[ii] (CfSH), which is now better aligned with Part L of the Building Regulations. The decision has been made to maintain credit ENE7 as a credit for use of all “Low and Zero Carbon Technology”, rather than apply it to use of renewables alone, because “There was strong feedback that [CfSH] should continue to include low carbon technologies, especially gas CHP [Combined Heat & Power], as this could be a suitable first step to installing, at a later stage, a zero emissions or renewable technology”; this is precisely what district energy enables.
EU Energy Strategy
Further emphasis on the importance of district energy came in the form of the new EU Energy Strategy for 2020[iii], stating as a key action for “Achieving an energy efficient Europe” that “efforts are needed to substantially increase the uptake of high efficiency cogeneration, district heating and cooling.”
The UKDEA therefore recommends that DECC consider introducing targets for nationwide deployment of district energy, to counteract the renewable centric view that can be promoted by the existing renewables targets standing in isolation. This would increase awareness of district energy amongst developers and local authorities, and help them to consider on a case by case basis, what is the most effective way to reduce energy consumption and deliver reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases.
A further point of interest from DECC’s business plan is the proposed “reform of the climate change levy [CCL], to help support the carbon price”. Expectations that this support for the carbon price is intended to support new nuclear generation (alongside Sir David King’s assertion that a carbon price of up to £30/tonne might be needed to support new nuclear generation[iv]) mean that the UKDEA will be keeping a keen eye on these reforms and how they could impact on energy costs.
Potentially key tools are on the horizon, to help developers and local authorities make informed decisions about the most appropriate energy solutions, as DECC plan to make more energy statistics publically available and commence work on a new national database of energy use in both domestic and non-domestic properties.
Finally, there is evidence of a fundamental change in DECC’s remit as “DECC will move further away from centralised service delivery and will drive change increasingly through the private sector.” This holds the potential to provide more opportunities for Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) but the UKDEA hopes this doesn’t simply mean that less funding will be available as more expectation is put onto an un-incentivised private sector.
i The DECC business plan can be viewed online at:
ii A summary of changes to the Code for Sustainable Homes technical guidance is available at:
iii The European Energy Strategy can be viewed online at:
iv At the recent Carbon Connect event “The Future of UK Energy Supply” on 19th October 2010.
Notes to Editors:
The partners, owners and operators of the largest district energy schemes in the UK have aligned themselves in the creation of the UK District Energy Association (UKDEA); with the aim of not only promoting District Energy as a means to deliver significant carbon savings, but also to establish a direct link between the Government and the industry's small market base.
The Association is a not for profit association of companies and public sector organisations involved or interested in District Energy schemes. The UKDEA initially comprised of the representatives of the 6 main District Energy schemes in the UK today:
Birmingham City Council,
Veolia Environmental Services Limited,
Southampton City Council,
Thameswey Limited and
Cofely District Energy Limited
Together these six organisations represent the: Birmingham, Milton Keynes, Nottingham, Sheffield, Southampton and Woking District Energy schemes.
The UK District Energy Association’s aim is to represent current and potential owners, developers, consumers, partners, operators and product suppliers of District Energy schemes throughout the UK.
For more information contact:
Chris Tanner, Secretary for the UKDEA
Thames Head Wharf, Tetbury Road, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7 6NZ
Tel: 01285 770615
Mobile: 07773 457941