District heating networks will be a “big development” of the second half of this decade, according to former energy minister Lord Barker.
Barker was discussing renewable energy at the REA’s ‘Renewable Futures’ event last week and broached the subject of heat, an area which the UK is notably behind in.
Emails from secretary of state Amber Rudd and leaked to The Ecologist last month revealed that the UK is set to miss 2030 renewables targets because of poor uptake in heat and transport unless urgent action is taken.
There has subsequently been much discussion about what the government can do to stimulate greater uptake of heat, however Barker said that developments would be “much more exciting in the private sector than in the policy world” when it comes to renewable heat.
Barker added that he expected district heating networks to take off between now and 2020, particularly with the level of smarter construction that is taking place. Barker acts as chair of the London Sustainable Development Commission, which is currently working towards increasing smart networks inside London’s boroughs.
Last week chancellor George Osborne revealed that a fund of £300 million would be made available to establish 200 heat networks across the UK, which in turn would leverage up to £2 billion of private capital investment.
Osborne said he envisaged the networks would create enough heat to support the equivalent of 400,000 homes, coincidentally the number of new homes the chancellor announced would be built before the end of the decade.