While recent government support for heat networks is encouraging, moving towards sustainable heating in the UK will be a long journey requiring innovation and flexibility amongst all stakeholders. Helpfully there is substantial experience and know-how available from Sweden and other European countries to call on.
Some of the most efficient heat networks combine a range of fuel sources and technologies. These include:
These smart solutions for energy storage can all help a decentralised heat network to achieve best possible results in terms of grid performance and energy costs.
From an environmental perspective, biomass has a clear advantage over fossil fuels. For example Sweden is almost completely fossil fuel free. This is largely because over 60 per cent of heat generation and distribution is undertaken through heat networks that use fuel combinations of biomass and solid waste.
In Sweden and Denmark, large biomass CHP is expanding. In Germany, there is an increase in small-scale biogas based CHP plants. There are many upsides with this solution. Whatever primary energy resource is used in a CHP plant, the energy losses are reduced to a minimum compared to a conventional power plant. CHP generates electricity whilst capturing usable heat that is produced in this process. This contrasts with conventional generation of electricity where a vast amount of heat is simply wasted.
CHP also provides a reliable energy use that can balance the intermittent supply of renewable energy generated by solar and wind power. The operation of a CHP plant can be optimised by accumulating heat on a daily or weekly basis. Boreholes allow storing heat over seasons, further reducing losses and enabling heat to be redistributed over a longer period.
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.