The UK government has just launched a £320 million fund to support new district heating projects underlining its commitment to decarbonising heat. It should come as no surprise that this sort of initiative is a crucial part of the Clean Growth Strategy. To be eligible for support projects would need to see 50% renewable heat.
The UK is a long way behind other EU nations in its efforts. This is largely due to the historic availability of cheap North Sea gas that replaced coal as the primary heating source for homes and businesses (and for the generation of electricity). Denmark did not have access to such cheap energy and was forced to find more innovative approaches – better insulated buildings, early adoption of wind energy and utilising district heat networks. Over time Denmark has incorporated more and more solar thermal into its heating networks to the point that it now leads the world. The Danes are targeting 100% renewable energy by 2050 (and they are well on track!).
Generating both heat and power from the same area makes a lot of sense for expensive roof top installations offering distributed heating solutions. However, it makes an even better business case in the context of solar thermal district heating where the value and availability of land must be taken into consideration. One of the most ambitious projects to date will see the city of Graz in Austria moving to a huge 400MW solar thermal array to achieve 30% of its annual heating and hot water demand.
Naturally we at Naked Energy welcome all of the developments in this area and look forward to collaborating on new district heating projects where virtu’s unique combination of high efficiency thermal output plus electricity will differentiate it from the competition.