The development of municipally owned heat networks in the UK has been somewhat slower than expected, but in the fall of 2017 the first pipes went into the ground in Stoke-on-Trent, and in London's borough of Enfield their municipally owned heat networks schemes went live. We expect to see more similar schemes in the future and intend to learn from those that are under development.
A municipally owned energy company
As one of the first UK Local Authorities to establish its own energy company for local benefit, Enfield Council’s plan for Energetik to provide better value and low carbon heat is now underway.
The first two of Energetik’s community heat networks at Arnos Grove and Ponders End went into operation in 2017, with positive and supportive feedback from its first customers. Energetik’s customer base will grow to over 15,000 connections as these networks expand and two additional heat networks at Meridian Water and Oakwood go live. Energetik’s largest heat network at Meridian Water will supply over 10,000 homes. The Arnos Grove heat network has already been registered with the Heat Trust, showing the commitment to customer service and protection.
Enfield Council started to recognise the significant benefits that a council-owned energy company could bring to the borough from early feasibility work back in 2011. It decided to establish a council-owned energy company to own, operate and maintain heat networks in Enfield.
Long-term commitments and route to market
A team of industry specialists was recruited, and Energetik was incorporated as a private limited company with Enfield Council as its sole shareholder. Innovative financing was secured by obtaining back-to-back funding from the European Investment Bank and the London Energy Efficiency Fund. In January 2017 the Council made the decision to invest £58 million in the company’s 40-year business plan, showing its long-term commitment to the development. Energetik has partnered up with Vital Energi and Switch2 to provide its customers with the infrastructure and customer service that follows with Energetik’s customer first approach.
The company has looked across industry in the UK and Europe for expert advice and best practice to ensure it provides local energy that is affordable, clean and secure. Its networks are designed using Scandinavian standards, for greater longevity and efficiency and to enable future expansion.
Energy sources involving EfW and CHP
Energetik will supply Enfield’s Meridian Water regeneration scheme, utilising the very low-carbon heat created as a by-product from the North London Waste Authority’s new Energy Recovery Facility. Energetik’s other three heat networks are too far away to physically connect to the Energy Recovery Facility at this stage, instead using a combination of high-efficiency gas boilers and Combined Heat and Power (CHP) to deliver low carbon heating and hot water. These energy centres can efficiently adapt to demand as the number of connected properties increases.
Looking to the future
Moving forward we will definitely see increasingly more initiatives, and the long-term commitment of council-owned heat networks will surely help strengthen the market and further spur its future development. With the support from BEIS’ Heat Networks Delivery Unit and from the industry, we are looking to a future with a healthy mix of municipally and privately owned heat networks in the UK. We encourage the UK municipalities to learn from each other and take part of the Swedish expertise that has developed from working with district heating for more than half a century.
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.