The head of Ramboll Energy UK, part of Danish engineering specialist Ramboll, believes district heating could be about to grow in popularity in the UK, 40 years after initial attempts failed to proliferate.

Crispin Matson, Country Manager of Ramboll Energy UK (pictured), wrote on Construction News website that recent government moves and major projects suggest the technology has turned a corner.
Crispin Matson
“As the UK deliberates the prospect of winter energy shortages and considers how to secure its future energy supply, district heating provides a viable, efficient and sustainable alternative to centralised power plants,” wrote Matson.

“It seems the government recognises this, too. In last year’s Autumn Statement, the chancellor pledged more than £300m of capital funding for the development of district heat networks. The funding allocated has now been confirmed at £320m, which the government estimates will generate an additional £2bn of investment from the private sector.”

The latest addition to the country’s district energy infrastructure is the scheme which has its energy centre housed near the Blackwall Tunnel in London, Europe’s largest residential new-build district heating scheme.

The centre houses a gas-fired combined heat and power plant, biomass and gas-fired boilers as well as thermal storage systems, and will plug into a district heating network of some 16 km of piping throughout the south London mega-development on Greenwich Peninsula. The network, designed by Ramboll Energy, will provide low-carbon heat to more than 15,000 homes and 3.5m sq ft of commercial space.

Matson, later in his article, pointed out that through district heating‘the cost of delivering heat to a home can be as low as £0.06 per kWh, compared with the equivalent figure of £0.10 per kWh for traditional gas heating’, and it also has the potential to help the UK meet its international commitments to the reduction of CO2 emissions.

“District heating provides a viable, efficient and sustainable alternative to centralised power plants”

In June, the UK government launched a consultation inviting responses from stakeholders on the deployment of the latest funding, the results of which have yet to be published but are expected imminently.