What is district heating?

Our Biomass Boilers can be fitted domestic or commercial. If you’re in a new build, 1 boiler can run multiple houses.

The means to efficiently transport heat, in the form of hot water or steam, to a single building of multiple units, such as a tower block of multiple flats; or to multiple buildings in an area using a network of pre-insulated pipes from the point of generation to the end user, is also better known as a district heating scheme. From carrying heat between residential properties a few hundred metres away to supplying communities and industrial areas at a distance of several kilometres, the network varies greatly in size and length.

A heat network enables energy which would otherwise be wasted in power generation of industrial processes, to be captured and delivered to householders and businesses. A district heating scheme is ideal for residential, commercial and public premises as well as mixed use developments.

Biomass district heating allows commercial landlords to easily monitor heat usage via heat meters. The actual heat usage within each building or flat can be separately measured, and delivered heat accurately and easily billed for.

Powered by a range of low carbon energy solutions including CHP plants, heat pumps and biomass systems, these networks are very flexible and can be installed either above or below ground. An installation can be on any scale from lower than 50kW to beyond 50MW, which translates to large energy savings which can then be multiplied across multiple units, buildings or zones.

Characteristics of district heating systems in the UK:

  • large-scale heat source;
  • low-emission technology, such as highly efficient boilers, combined heat and power or biomass;
  • supply to multiple buildings on a campus or confined area;
  • more common in public sector rather than private sector;
  • heat users often include residential sector with purpose-built social housing estates more strongly represented;
  • distribution pipework is highly insulated and usually below ground;
  • primary heating distribution pipework separated from heat users’ heating systems by heat exchangers;
  • steam or medium/high-pressured hot water; and
  • management by energy services company or other third party.

How is district heating beneficial?

By using a combination of low carbon technologies, a district heating scheme creates sustainable, affordable and environmentally sound energy. However, that alone is not a guarantee of realising your savings because how the energy is distributed can have significant financial implications on a business. It is vital that a district heating scheme is designed well and utilises highly insulated pipes as together these will ensure that minimal energy is lost during the transport from point of generation to the end user. This ultimately translates to more cost savings throughout the lifetime of the scheme.

Combined with the potential cost savings to the end user, a district heating scheme is also used by local authorities to fight fuel poverty.

What are the advantages of district heating?

  • Lower capital cost per unit output for primary plant than for decentralised systems
  • Higher efficiency of heat generation and delivered heat
  • Greater range of fuel choice which also presents greater flexibility for fuel changes
  • Customers’ maintenance burden is significantly reduced
  • Continuity of service is greater than for multiple heat sources
  • Supply heat to a wide variety of users
  • Assists in the efficient management of supply & demand for heat in an area
  • Lower labour and maintenance costs compared to multiple heating & distribution systems
  • Reduced risk as no fossil fuel boilers in each property

Frequently Asked Questions