Decarbonising Heat: District Heating For the UK’s Low-Carbon Future

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Urban emitting carbon dioxideUrban sprawl is one of the leading environmental problems of today. However, experts stress that cities can be sustainable, too, through rigorous planning, policy making, and monitoring. Heat, water, and energy demands are primary concerns that all nations face.

In the UK, where heating demands are constantly on the rise, efforts towards sustainability are underway. The Association for Decentralised Energy has launched a new task force to increase investments and create a self-sustaining heat network. The initiative aims to address the “challenges created by the natural monopoly of district heating.” But, its end goal is to develop infrastructure that delivers heat that is both low-carbon and affordable.

Climate Impacts on Energy

Energy and climate change are closely related. The energy sector, both on residential and commercial levels, produces a big chunk of the greenhouse gases and aerosols found in the atmosphere. When the earth warms up, the demand for cooling increases, and when the earth cools down, the demand for heating rises.

But climate change is not a zero-sum game. The solution is to help cities and towns radically improve the way they generate and consume energy. This solution stems from the premise that poor urban planning and antiquated infrastructure are to blame for the rising CO2 emissions produced by the utility sector.

Renewable District Heating: Is It Possible?

Studies show that district heating (DH) networks have the capacity to meet heat demands while significantly reducing CO2 emissions. But, this would require large-scale infrastructure upgrades. A DH network will include a local or district boiler that will generate the heat and distribute it to buildings and residences via pre-insulated pipes. An infographic published by Frontline Energy and Environmental best explains how district heating networks work and how they benefit end users.

Pipe boxing and outer casings and fittings will provide full protection of the pipes and prevent them from freezing during winter. Encasements also offer insulation that’s both cost-effective and long-lasting.

The UK Government has already committed capital support that will help towns and cities build new heat network infrastructure until 2021. Authorities encourage everyone, homeowners and businesses alike, to support the initiative. They hope to bring everyone together in meeting goals of decarbonising heat supply, in the near future.