Energy giant ENGIE has given its backing to a £320m UK government heat networks project.

ENGIE is Britain’s largest provider of district energy and says the launch of a Heat Networks Investment Program by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is a ‘step change’ in the UK’s approach to heat networks.

The programme has been introduced to inject capital funding into heat network projects, which the government says offer a viable and long-term solution to decarbonized heat.

“District energy is a tangible and established solution to decarbonization,” said Andrew Hart, Managing Director for ENGIE’s UK Urban Energy business, “and this significant government program could be the catalyst for real change. The availability of grants and loans for this sector will support further schemes that couldn’t previously be developed, due to poor returns.”

Hart said ENGIE’s UK business “has invested £250 million in local authority-centric district energy schemes and are actively supporting council’s to form partnerships and develop schemes. This capital funding will unlock those projects and allow both us and local authorities to invest significantly in further district energy schemes”.

ENGIE’s district energy schemes in the UK include the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.

Hart continued: “There are many ambitious local authorities that have seen the potential of heat networks and have taken sizeable steps to deliver such schemes, but the risk was ultimately too great.  With the government showing a commitment to develop this arena, local authorities can utilize new funds to develop partnerships, who can support with managing and sharing risk.”

ENGIE’s own targets are aligned with the UK government’s ambition to increase the amount of heat generated in the UK from 2 per cent to 17 per cent by 2030.  The business is also investing in research and development around the decarbonization of both existing and new schemes, including the introduction of zero carbon technologies.

Hart added: “Through the HNIP, the government has reaffirmed its dedication to the sector and this, in turn, encourages companies to invest in resource so we can deliver on these schemes. It is hoped and envisaged the HNIP will support the development and integration of these technologies into the energy networks of the future.”

Georgina Grenon, ENGIE’S director for 100 per cent Energy Solutions, will be speaking at European Utility Week in Vienna next month. Click here to find out more.