BSEE-AUG21-P07 Comment_Layout 1 22/07/2021 15:29 Page 7

INDUSTRY COMMENT Calm before the storm

In his latest column, Pete Mills, Commercial Technical Operations Manager for Bosch Commercial & Industrial looks at what may be on the horizon in terms of heating policy

hroughout 2021, the heating industry has seen an unprecedented level of consultation documents coming from Government, as well as many other sources. It has seemed like a deluge of requests coming into inboxes week after week with seemingly no end. But over the last few weeks the storm seems to have calmed a little. This could of course be the calm before the summer recess, when Civil Servants have a habit of releasing consultations. We will have to wait and see. All of this reflects the level of change that is beginning to happen in the heating industry as we transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, in whatever form that ends up being. We are patiently waiting for two of the key policy documents that will shape this future, namely the Heat in Buildings Strategy and the Hydrogen Strategy. Rumours continue as to when these may end up being released, but for the time being we can only wait and reflect on the task ahead. Two other consultations of interest have been announced by Government, which will certainly have important parts to play in the heat decarbonisation roadmap. The first is the consultation from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) looking into a framework for heat network zoning. This was due to start in the spring and was announce back in October last year, but so far has been delayed. Heat networks we know have been highlighted as a key pillar of Government strategy to decarbonise heat and will be particularly important in cities with high heat density. They take considerable investment to construct and it is important that schemes have good take up if they are to be successful. This is particularly important for large district wide schemes that will need to attract significant outside investment. Investors understandably need greater certainty about the viability of a scheme and this is what this consultation is all about.


A zoning framework could give Local Authorities the power to designate heat network zones across the country, thus encouraging the development of new heat networks as well as the possibility of expanding existing ones. This is an exciting prospect for the heat network industry. This consultation though will not be without controversy. In order to create a heat network zone, Local Authorities will need powers to compel building owners to connect to the network. This could quite possibly be a mandatory requirement for commercial buildings and housing blocks, although may be less clear cut for individual homes.


What is clear is that good effective protection will be needed to balance this removal of choice of how we heat our homes and hot water. This will be the key part of the proposed Heat Network Market Framework, which will not now be likely until around 2025. There will surely need to be some guarantees about the cost of heat from a heat network, in relation to other forms of heat included somewhere within this.

Done well, we could see the UK start to develop large city wide district heating in the form that we see in Scandinavian countries like Denmark. For individual consumers this can prove a reliable worry free option that delivers good value heat and this is certainly the ultimate goal for the UK industry.

The second consultation of interest will be another from BEIS called the Affordability & Fairness consultation. This is all about who pays for the energy transition that we now have to tackle. It was a pledge from the Energy White Paper – powering our net zero future, released in December last year. Government wants to put affordability back at the heart of the debate, as well as increasing competition in the retail energy markets. It has pledged to support the most vulnerable fuel poor with some £6.7 billion over the next six years.

This could pull a number of topics into focus including rebalancing energy costs. It will be interesting to see what will actually be considered in this consultation and whether the significant cost that many could face in transitioning to a heat pump based heating system will be recognised. Government now has plenty of evidence for what this cost could be and there is no doubt that it will be politically difficult to impose this on individual home owners. The cost of hydrogen gas transition is likely to have far less up front cost to home owners, as well as businesses and this is why the Hydrogen Strategy document is important. Whether or not it will be considered in this debate remains to be seen. For sure affordability & fairness will have to come into focus as the cost to individuals of achieving net zero begins to be better understood. I personally, am not yet convinced that we have really begun to understand, that as individuals we will have to be prepared to foot a good part of the cost of mitigating climate change and what this really means.

So or course, Government needs to keep engaging on these difficult transitions and I think we can all assume that our inboxes will continue to fill up with requests for involvement and feedback.

Read the latest at:


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50