UKERC Energy Data Centre: ETI Publications

UKERC Home >> EDC Home >> ETI Publications >> Back to Results >> Heat Infrastructure Development Project - Reducing the capital cost of district heat network infrastructure - Routes to implement innovative solutions - Summary Report

Heat Infrastructure Development Project - Reducing the capital cost of district heat network infrastructure - Routes to implement innovative solutions - Summary Report


Citation AECOM Ltd Heat Infrastructure Development Project - Reducing the capital cost of district heat network infrastructure - Routes to implement innovative solutions - Summary Report, ETI, 2017. https://doi.org/10.5286/UKERC.EDC.000327.
Cite this using DataCite
Author(s) AECOM Ltd
Project partner(s) AECOM, Buro Happold Ltd
Publisher ETI
DOI https://doi.org/10.5286/UKERC.EDC.000327
Download AdHoc_ESD_EN2013_4.pdf document type
Abstract This project seeks to identify the innovative solutions needed to deliver major reductions in the capital cost of heat network infrastructure and accelerate its deployment. Examining the technical, process and system developments needed to deliver a step change reduction in the capital costs, along with cost estimates and time frames for undertaking these developments. District heat networks supply heat to homes and businesses through pipes carrying hot water. They have great potential to deliver CO2 emissions reductions and cost benefits through the use of low carbon heat, waste heat from power stations, industry and other sources, combined heat and power, and large-scale heat pump deployment.

This summary report summarises the entire project, in a readily-accessible manner. Readers may find it useful to study this report prior to studying the detailed engineeringreports.

Key findings from the project

Heat network capital cost reductions of 30-40% are possible. Eight route maps summarise the actions required to implement the most impactful solutions with a total funding requirement of c£10m

Cost modelling of a notional baseline network (constructed to current good practice in the UK) comprising a mix of types of dwelling from flats to detached houses and a group of non-domestic buildings showed that 77% of the total cost of a typical heat distribution network is associated with three key elements:
  1. The civil engineering work to excavate and reinstate trenches (37%).
  2. The transmission and distribution pipes and their installation (17%).
  3. The supply and installation into the buildings of the heat interface units (HIUs) and associated pipework, which enable the connection of the DH network to the building’s heating system (23%).
A technical review of DH experience outside the UK revealed that the technical designs used in countries with established district heatingmarkets are broadly similar to the designs deployed in the UK. However, in other countries there is a widespread understanding of DH systems and better integration in practice across all delivery stakeholders, including a more standardised methodology for carrying out assessments, design and construction for new schemes.

The technical review also confirmed that the design and installation of pre-insulated pipe systems has reached a level of technical maturity after 40 years of development, and so the areas with the greatest potential for cost reduction are likely to be those concerned with completely new materials and products, new approaches to site work, or more radical system design. Additionally, Heat Interface Units (HIUs) have the potential for cost reduction through optimisation and mass production.

Subsequent technical and stakeholder engagement activity identified a range of innovation opportunities and technical solutions that could deliver substantial reductions in the capital cost (and lifecycle cost) of DHN infrastructure deployment.

These solutions have been prioritised and combined where appropriate to form eight broad groups for which ‘route maps’ have been developed which describe the mechanisms by which these solutions can be driven through to commercialisation.

Each route map details:
  • The particular challenge to be addressed
  • The proposed solution−
  • Development and commercialisation requirements
  • A plan of work.
Each activity within the plan of work has been separately defined with a scope, cost and implementation schedule. The funding needed to deliver the activities within the route maps is proposed to come from a combination of central government and the DH industry.
Associated Project(s) ETI-EN2013: Heat Infrastructure Development (HID)
Associated Dataset(s) No associated datasets
Associated Publication(s)

ETI Innovation Learnings - Energy Storage

Evolution of our Energy System - Presentation

Heat Infrastructure Development Project - Request for Proposal

Heat Infrastructure Development Project - Requirements, Baseline Analysis and Target Setting - September 2017 version

Heat Infrastructure Development Project - Solution Development, Analysis and Selection Report

Heat Infrastructure Development Project - Solution Development, Analysis and Selection Report

Heat Infrastructure Development Project - Solution Route Maps Report

Multi-Vector Integration - Presentation

Transitioning to a low carbon energy system: network challenges - Presentation

UK Energy Networks - Transition Challenges - Presentation