Accelerated deployment could exacerbate design issues, warns heat industry

Parts of the heat network supply chain are not ready for the accelerated deployment that is likely to be driven by the £320 million funding awarded through the Heat Networks Investment Project, industry has warned.

Accelerated deployment could exacerbate design issues, warns heat industry

Private sector heat network operators have voiced concerns that rapid deployment will exacerbate the current problems with the quality of design and implementation of schemes in comparison to those in continental Europe.

They added that the funding will bring in new UK based contractors “who in reality need some time and training to build up their expertise and knowledge to deliver successful schemes.”

In response to a government consultation on how to maximise the funding, more than half of respondents said the supply chain is not ready, citing weaknesses in the civil contracting market for trenching, consultancy and delivery capability.

A lack of vertically integrated companies in the UK capability, feasibility, design and operation is already leading to major suppliers “struggling to meet current demand”.

Respondents also said the District Energy Procurement Agency should continue to be supported as a way to address the expensive, slow and inefficient procurement process which is deterring larger delivery players from entering the market.

However, they were confident that practices in the EU could be transferred to the UK if the government gives “long-term signals to support investment” such as helping increase the number of qualified professionals in the supply chain.

Solution put forward include developing relevant modules in universities, training consultants to follow the CIBSE ADE Code of Practice CP1:2015, providing apprenticeships for heat networks and establishing a national centre for heat networks excellence.

The first stage of the Heat Networks Investment Project was launched today with the announcement of a Pilot Scheme with a budget of £39 million.


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