From feasibility to execution – making a business case of heat networks with Sweco

Although the roll-out of heat networks in the UK has become a thing of the less distant future, there remain reservations from the supplier side on how to work with contractors and ESCOs to get through to the execution of a project. Heat Networks spoke with one of its programme members, Sweco, a large Swedish consultancy having done a vast amount of feasibility studies and energy mapping for private as well as public parties leading the way in conversion to low-carbon energy solutions.


Sweco works with some of the largest contractors in the UK and has delivered on multiple project types and sizes. Most of the work is within energy mapping and feasibility studies, but there is increasingly more work done within execution also due to funding from HNIP. In many of the projects where Sweco has been lead designer, the energy efficiency has been increased significantly resulting in a reduced (CAPEX) investment cost of 30% on average.

Some examples of Sweco’s work in the UK are:

  • University of Glasgow District Energy Scheme
    • Multi-disciplinary designer & consultant
    • 53 buildings across University campus
  • Royal Woolwich Arsenal Energy Centre
    • Multi-disciplinary designer & consultant
    • Commercial and residential dwellings
  • Sandwell Council
    • Energy Mapping/Masterplanning of town-scale heat network
    • Financial Analysis
  • Tyseley Council
    • Techno-economic feasibility of town-scale heat networks
  • Barts Square
    • M&E Consultants role
    • hospital, commercial and residential dwellings
    • Heating and cooling
  • Battersea Power Station
    • Consultant role
    • Health and leisure facilities, hotel, commercial and residential dwellings
  • Spire London, Canary Warf
    • Role of M&E, consultants and lead designers
    • Residential with commercial potential
  • And many more.
Challenges on the UK market

Per-Anders Tauson, Business Unit Manager Power & Heat says the first step to success is to build a solid business case out of a heat network project. From a Swedish perspective, it is also crucial to keep in mind the way of working and decision-making in the UK. In cooperation with Heat Networks UK, Sweco joined a roundtable discussion with Swedish and British ministers for Energy along with stakeholders in the sector to address policy and other government initiatives to facilitate the best possible investments, implementation and operation of networks.

Andy King, Director of Energy for Sweco UK, adds that whilst the skills base in the UK is growing, there is a lack of credible and experienced district heating consultant and contractors in the market place to deliver the anticipated market growth.  It will be imperative to capitalise on the heritage and experience of Nordic companies to ensure we design and build cost effective and robust networks to help decarbonise our heat provision.

Steps to heat networks as a business case

In short, both representatives of Sweco agree on a couple of foundations required for a district heating scheme to be a success in the UK:

  • First step is to see the business case of the scheme; how should the financing be organised, which legal structures are to be taken into account
  • Create a competitive and competent supply chain to cater for the growing demand in the UK
  • Increase and facilitate sector regulation both for consumer protection as well as allow business to attract investments

Sweden is at the forefront of decentralised heat networks technology. Our aim for  “Heat Networks – Sustainability by Sweden” is to facilitate knowledge sharing between British and Swedish stakeholders and develop and encourage environmental and economic best practice.

To find out how we can help you and your organisation,  please  contact our London-based “Heat Networks” team. We can introduce you to leading consultants, suppliers of technology and services who will be pleased to share know-how of the development of heat network solutions.

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