Decentralised energy chief responds to criticism

The head of the Association for Decentralised Energy has responded to comments from a leading engineering firm who have questioned the necessity of heat network and combined heat and power technologies.

Interviewed on Global Construction Review website, Bill Watts, senior partner at Max Fordham said television sets and refrigerators should be enough to heat a home, and could replace the “eco-friendly” combined heat and power plants and other district heating systems that are often part of new-build developments.
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“Instead of installing complicated heating systems, developers should insulate new builds more effectively. These systems are on all year round, producing 52 weeks of bills for heat that customers don’t use or need. A well-insulated home should only need to be heated for a few days a year.”

Dr Tim Rotheray told Cogeneration and On-Site Power Production (COSPP) online that there is no simplistic answer to decarbonisation and decentralised energy has a valid contribution to make.

“As new buildings become more efficient the demand for space heating will fall and in time the need for heat networks in new build may become unnecessary. But these are not the buildings that we are building now. The need for space heat and increasingly cooling remains.”

Rotheray added that a solution also needed to be found for existing homes and offices, and this is where heat networks come into their own.

“A recent EU wide research project* showed that 30-50% of existing need for heating can be cost effectively reduced by better building efficiency. The remaining half, however needs to be supplied by low cost low carbon heat. In dense areas, district heating is repeatedly shown to be the most cost effective solution.

“The reality is that a portfolio of approaches is needed and there is no one simplistic answer to the complex challenge of decarbonising buildings.”

Watts had also claimed that à‚£1bn of development funds in London alone had been wasted on “eco-friendly” heating schemes that consume large amounts of energy when compared with conventional systems.

*Heat Roadmap Europe’s latest study shows between 30-50% of demand reduction was cost effective, above that it was cheaper to supply low carbon heat such as through heat networks or individual solutions.

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