10 June 2016
We got very excited back in 2014 when the Commonwealth Games came to Glasgow, though not for the reasons you might think.
Far from concerning ourselves with whether Usain Bolt would smash the world record, we were far more interested in the Athlete’s Village and the way it was powered using ‘district heating’.
The heat and power all came from a central 70,000 litre thermal store, and was then fed to the athletes accommodation via 28km of underground piping on a flow and return system. This district heating system was very green, carbon free and excited us very much.
Now the government estimates that around 210,000 homes in the UK are currently hooked up to district heating systems and they predict this could rise to a massive 8 million homes by 2030.
The idea of transferring heat and power from a central energy centre is not new and several district heating systems were set up around the UK in the early 20th century.
However, with the rise of individual gas boilers being installed in homes, the district heating systems were no longer the best financial option and were stopped in the 1970s.
These days, technology in the heating industry has moved on greatly and the government is now looking at the benefits and implications of reintroducing district heating systems on a national scale.
One of the major benefits of this way of heating homes is for the energy saving and carbon dioxide cutting opportunities it provides.
Estimates suggest that energy savings can be as much as 30-40% once the average home has switched over to district heating. In addition, with the system using almost low carbon and the government concerned about hitting strict carbon reduction targets, district heating is looking like a very attractive proposition.
It’s believed that existing boilers can be incorporated into the systems with many suggesting that energy usage can be closely monitored, which means inaccurate or estimated bills could be a thing of the past.
It’s also been put forward that the district heating system could provide a huge weapon in combating fuel poverty, so it may be sooner rather than later that we see district heating systems popping up across the UK.
Article by Benjamin Clarke
• The energy efficient legacy of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014 22nd Jul 2014
• Why it's not worth sacrificing energy efficiency for aesthetics 6th Aug 2015
• How to maximise your heating system's energy efficiency 23rd Dec 2014