District Heating Schemes allow multiple properties to be supplied with heat and hot water from a single energy centre. Although common in mainland Europe, Community and District Heating Schemes have not enjoyed the popularity they deserve in the UK until recently.
Heat is distributed from a centrally located energy centre through an underground network of pre-insulated high temperature pressurised pipes to a number of separately owned or rented properties. The heat is then transferred on demand to individual properties through heat interchange units (HIUs). Energy used can be accurately metered if required, as with an electricity or gas meter.
This eliminates the need for individual boilers in each property, creating more space for the residents. Modern Community and District Heating Schemes are provided with a backup system, which can either be a second biomass boiler or a high efficiency gas boiler. This is used in times of maintenance to avoid the inconvenience of downtime.
Biomass offers CO2 savings of 96% and fuel cost savings of 50%-80% versus fossil fuels. District heating schemes, as they increase in size, become progressively more cost effective over individual boilers. This is because district heating is the most effective method of obtaining the RHI incentives, due to the fact tenants will contribute to fuel costs, leaving the RHI income to be entirely profit.
A district heating scheme can be split into zones, with clusters of houses and buildings supplied by a single boiler, enabling large savings in installation and operating costs, as well as providing flexibility in multiple site options and operations.
Community and District Heating Systems are ideal for many applications where a number of buildings can be heated by a centrally located Energy Centre. These include housing developments from a few individual units to several hundred; apartment blocks; holiday cottage complexes; as well as entire villages and estates. A wood fuelled energy centre can be designed to feed a building’s existing central heating system, acting as an efficient, low carbon replacement to an old oil or gas boiler.
Benefits of Community and District Heating Systems
- Environmental gain from lower carbon emissions and higher energy conversion rate
- Energy security
- Insulates communities from the uncertainty of future energy price rises
- Provides cheaper heating and hot water for residents
- Eliminates the need for individual boilers in each property
- Creates more usable space within each property
- Reduced maintenance costs
- Reliability delivered by system back up