The decarbonisation of warmth is anticipated to play a elementary function in attaining internet zero carbon emissions. The strain to grasp internet zero, enshrined within the Local weather Change Act 2018, whereby carbon emissions are diminished to as near zero as potential by 2050 and any remaining emissions are offset by the equal quantity being faraway from the ambiance, is growing.

Ruth Juan

Electrification of warmth by way of the transition to warmth networks and, at a family degree, by way of a broader deployment of warmth pumps to exchange fuel boiler demand, stay the principle routes for decarbonisation.

This text discusses latest regulatory developments supporting the transition to low carbon heating and highlights future developments related to warmth networks.

Whereas heating networks could also be eligible for monetary assist underneath the Renewable Warmth Incentive schemes, latest developments regarding their closure (and alternative) are exterior the scope of this observe.

Local weather Change Act 2018

The Local weather Change Act 2018 (CCA) established a legally binding goal for the UK to scale back its carbon emissions by 100% from 1990 ranges by 2050. It will require all carbon emissions to be eradicated, captured or offset by then. Presently, a 3rd of the UK’s emissions stem from heating residential, business and industrial buildings, making the decarbonisation of warmth a big space to sort out on the trail to internet zero. Warmth additionally accounts for nearly half of UK power use, making it an vital part in our power combine.

Marketplace for warmth networks

Warmth networks (also called district heating) are a community of underground insulated pipes transferring warmth from a centralised era supply (eg, power from waste vegetation) that always goes to waste, and delivers it to a number of finish customers, chopping fuel consumption and power wastage.

There are over 14,000 warmth networks within the UK, offering heating and scorching water to roughly 480,000 shoppers. As much as £16bn of capital funding may very well be wanted for warmth networks to ship their full contribution to internet zero.

Presently, warmth networks will not be regulated. Authorities assist has been channelled primarily by way of its Warmth Networks Supply Unit which helps native authorities in England and Wales by way of the early levels of warmth community mission growth, and the Warmth Community Funding Mission (HNIP). HNIP has been prolonged till March 2022 and can then be succeeded by the Inexperienced Warmth Networks Scheme fund. In October 2020, a brand new Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme was launched to fund low-carbon warmth measures by public sector our bodies.

The Market Framework Session

In February 2020, the Division for Enterprise, Vitality & Industrial Technique (BEIS) revealed a Market Framework session, setting out proposals for important legislative adjustments by establishing a regulatory regime, together with:

  • Measures to encourage funding, together with addressing builders’ threat of inadequate variety of prospects connecting to their warmth community.
  • Introduction of a regulatory framework and the appointment of Ofgem because the regulator, with enforcement powers and step-in preparations on an operator’s insolvency or poor efficiency.
  • Shopper safety on info transparency, truthful and correct pricing and high quality of service requirements.
  • Warmth networks decarbonisation by way of the setting of a most carbon emission customary.

Presently, BEIS is analysing responses to the Market Framework Session. Additional consultations are anticipated.

Warmth networks contract standardisation

In June 2019, BEIS, in partnership with Triple Level, revealed a Standardised Due Diligence Set. In January 2020, additionally they produced a collection of template warmth networks agreements (with steerage). The creation of standardised contracts introduces a finest observe strategy, reduces sponsors’ prices and will allow quicker mission growth.

Future Developments

Upcoming regulatory developments prone to impression on low carbon warmth deployment both immediately, or not directly by way of a sharper regulatory concentrate on internet zero, embrace:

  • The Vitality White Paper, setting out the UK’s path to internet zero, together with round warmth and its regulation.
  • The Warmth and Buildings Technique, setting out the federal government’s proposals for the decarbonisation of warmth.
  • The Nationwide Infrastructure Technique, setting out the federal government’s imaginative and prescient for infrastructure growth over the subsequent 30 years, per internet zero, together with power networks.
  • The introduction of the Future House Customary for brand new construct properties in England by 2025, which is meant to future-proof new construct properties with low carbon heating, together with a ban on fossil gasoline heating methods in all new properties from 2025. The federal government is presently analysing responses to its session on implementing this by way of adjustments to Half L of Constructing Rules.
  • Laws to determine a warmth community regulator. The federal government has indicated that main powers might be launched when the parliamentary timetable permits.

The end result of the Market Framework Session and the ultimate element within the methods and laws are of nice curiosity to the heating networks market. It stays to be seen whether or not the present proposals go far sufficient to encourage funding within the sector and play a crucial function within the UK’s transition to internet zero.


Ruth Juan is a solicitor specialising in power regulation and is knowledgeable assist lawyer at LexisNexis (Vitality)