Climate change minister Greg Barker announced today that The Green Investment Bank is planning to back district heating projects as the public interest in renewable heat grows.
A funding programme launched by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) two months ago has attracted more than £3.5 million worth of heat network projects.
The Green Investment Bank has yet to finance any renewable heat projects, as this is one of their ‘non-priority sectors’.
Barker spoke at Heat 2013 conference in London “I am delighted to announce the Green Investment Bank, encouraged by the formation of the heat network delivery unit [in Decc], has decided to look more actively at financing heat network opportunities.”
Two-thirds of delegates in a straw poll thought that the government should put district heating higher in it’s list of priorites over other forms of renewable heat. Only a handful said national scale solutions, such as injecting biomethane into the gas grid, were more deserving of Barker’s attention. A larger minority backed household options such as heat pumps and biomass boilers.
Brian Tilley, head of policy at Eon, said economies of scale allowed 25 per cent cuts to both carbon emissions and customer heating bills on heat networks the energy company operates.
There are no regulations on district heating networks at present. Louise Strong, senior policy advisor at Which?, said customers who had no choice over their heating provider wanted evidence they were getting a fair price.
“We have had several frustrated district heat customers come to us and they say price transparency is really important,” she said. “There is currently no standard price comparator.”
She added that the industry’s voluntary customer protection scheme “is a useful transitional arrangement, but not a long or even medium term solution.”