District heating still only makes up around 2% of the UK energy market which is much lower than other parts of Europe (particularly Northern Europe) as can seen in the table below:

Country % of citizens served by district heating
Iceland 92%
Denmark 63%
Sweden 52%
Finland 50%
Germany 12%
France 7%
UK 2%

Data from Euroheat & Power statistics 2013

Despite this small overall market share in the UK the industry has seen rapid growth in recent years (even at 2% share that still equates to 200,000 properties) and district heating will be become increasingly important to the UK in the future. The concept of district heating strongly supports the UK Governments energy strategy:

  • To reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the use of a wide range of low carbon and renewable heat sources.
  • To improve security of energy supply by diversifying the energy sources for heating and reducing the UK’s dependence on fossil fuel imports.
  • To offer a supply of heat that is good value and that contributes to reducing fuel poverty.

So what can we learn from Northern Europe about district heating? When the oil crisis hit in 1973 and the price of a barrel of oil quadrupled unfortunately Denmark was a country badly affected (at the time over 90% of its energy came from imported oil). In the aftermath of this crisis Denmark changed energy policy and started investigating heavily in renewables and district heating – 40 years later 63% of its citizens are supplied by district heating networks and Denmark is actually a net exporter of oil. The UK was far less exposed to the 1973 oil crisis thanks to its North Sea reserves, however production today is starting to dwindle and the UK now needs to look for new solutions. In 2013 the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) developed a heat networks model with initial estimates suggesting that the 2% share in domestic heating could be increased to 20% by 2030.

District heating makes a lot of sense from an energy efficiency point of view and also reduces dependence on fossil fuels, reduces CO2 emissions and reduces running costs. It’s much better to have one large centralised heat source supplying all of the buildings and properties in a scheme, rather than each having a separate small boiler.

The central heat source will then be connected to the various buildings in the scheme via an underground pipe network. We offer a wide range of pre-insulated pipes to maintain the water temperature when in transit (avoiding heat losses to improve energy efficiency) from leading district heating pipe manufacturers like Rehau, or our own Mibec DHP pipe.

Where the buildings within the district heating scheme are individual properties or dwellings then our range of Heat Interface Units (HIUs) are a great solution. Each home or apartment has its own HIU installed, which uses heat distributed from the central network to provide heating and hot water for use in the home, replacing the requirement for individual boilers in each property.

We offer a full free of charge specification service covering the whole of the UK, designed to support architects, specifiers or contractors, helping you to select a full heating system to meet your needs. Please feel free to email or call our support department on 01948 661639 where one of our trained advisers will be happy to help you.