Heat Network related documents

Below is a list of some of the key reports about heat networks which you may have heard mentioned. It is not exhaustive, but might prove a good starting point if you want to learn more about the heat network market and the governments’ positions on heat networks.

They are ordered by release date, with most recent first.

Heat Trust Reports

Heat Trust Annual Report 2020 - Heat Trust (August 2021)

This is our fifth annual report. It presents complaints and interruptions statistics as well as other data from both Registered Participants and the Energy Ombudsman from 2020. In addition it sets out the importance of Heat Trust in the current stage of statutory regulation development, and an overview of our latest activity.  We are pleased to see membership increase but continue to work towards supporting more of the heat network industry to offer minimum protection standards to their customers.

Heat Trust Annual Report 2019 - Heat Trust (May 2020)

This is our fourth annual report. It presents analysis of data from both Registered Participants and the Ombudsman from 2019, as well as our reflections on the first four years of Heat Trust and recommendations for developing regulation which draw on this experience. We are pleased to see that the voluntary standards set by Heat Trust are having a positive impact on the market and delivering improvements to customer experience.

Heat Trust Annual Report 2018 - Heat Trust (November 2019)

This is our third annual report. Heat Trust now provides protection to 10% of the market. Reflecting on the experience gained over three years, the report sets out the key principles to consider as regulation of the market is developed. The report also provides a summary of performance of heat networks registered with Heat Trust over the previous three years, including complaints from the Energy Ombudsman, interruptions and debt and disconnection.

Heat Trust Annual Report 2017 - Heat Trust (November 2018)

This is our second annual report. The report provides a summary of the performance of heat networks that are registered with Heat Trust, and an update on Heat Trust developments and activities. It also provides greater detail on interruptions and complaints data, and case studies from complaints that went to the Energy Ombudsman, the independent dispute resolution service.

Heat Trust First Annual Report 2016 - Heat Trust (October 2017)

This is the first annual report from Heat Trust. It summarises the performance of heat networks that are registered with Heat Trust, and draws out key findings from the first year of operation.


Other Reports

Spotlight on complaints about heating, hot water and energy in social housing - Housing Ombudsman (February 2021)
The Housing Ombudsman makes the final decision on disputes between residents and member landlords. Membership is compulsory for social landlords, primarily local authority landlords and housing associations, and some private landlords are voluntary members.The report focuses on complaints about heating and hot water – including heat networks and gas servicing. These are issues where maladministration is often found in complaints brought to the Housing Ombudsman. Complaints about heating and hot water systems are more common in the winter months and can have a serious impact on residents – particularly those who are older, or have disabilities or other vulnerabilities.

Bringing heat networks up to standard: How heat networks can start delivering better customer service outcomes - Citizens Advice (January 2021)
To find out what heat network suppliers still need to fix ahead of upcoming regulation, Citizens Advice analysed the information given to customers by 20 heat network suppliers. They reviewed the information on their websites and also mystery shopped their customer service phone lines. This report shows the results of these exercises.

CP1: Heat Networks: Code of Practice For The UK (2020) – CIBSE – Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (January 2021)
This second edition of the Code of Practice: Heat networks provides a very significant update to the 2015 version. The previous edition had been highly successful in establishing minimum standards to improve the quality of district heating projects from concept through to operation. A series of fully integrated checklists now presents a more structured and robust toolkit for checking compliance with the Code of Practice, among other updates.

Heat networks: building a market framework Consultation – BEIS - Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (February 2020)
In this consultation, BEIS sought views on policy options for regulating heat networks to protect consumers and ensure fair pricing, while supporting market growth and the development of low-carbon networks.

This consultation set out:

  • measures to increase levels of investment in the sector, such as provision of market information and support for strengthening local approaches that will help generate additional demand certainty on projects
  • policy options for establishing a market framework to deliver important consumer protections, equivalent to those offered to gas and electricity customers, as the market expands
  • proposals relating to the choice of regulator, the regulatory approach, enforcement powers and step-in arrangements
  • proposals for protecting consumers including on transparency, pricing and quality of service standards
  • proposals for developing technical standards and certification and accreditation processes to improve the quality, cost and reliability of heat networks
  • proposals for giving heat networks equivalent rights and powers (such as undertaker or statutory access rights) compared with other utilities
  • proposals to drive decarbonisation of heat networks and use of waste-heat sources

Pre-payment meters and heat networks: learning the lessons - Citizens Advice (July 2019)
This research explores the experiences of those on heat networks that also use prepayment meters. The report makes recommendations to improve the experiences of these consumers and help prevent people being disconnected from their heating and hot water.

Net Zero – The UK’s contribution to stopping global warming – CCC – Committee on Climate Change (May 2019)
This report reassesses the UK’s long-term emissions targets, i.e. how we can achieve ‘net zero’ by 2050. The conclusions are supported by detailed analysis published in the Net Zero Technical Report that has been carried out for each sector of the economy.
Heat networks are identified as part of the solution to decarbonise the UK’s heating sector, with 5 million homes anticipated to be on heat networks by 2050.

UK housing: Fit for the future? – CCC – Committee on Climate Change (February 2019)
This report assesses whether the UK’s housing stock is adequately prepared for the challenges of climate change; both in terms of reducing emissions from UK homes and ensuring homes are prepared for the impacts of climate change. This includes both retro-fitting the existing 29 million homes in the UK, and preparing new homes.
Heat networks are identified as part of the solution to decarbonise the UK’s heating sector; particularly as after 2025 no new homes should be connected to the gas grid.

Heat networks: developing a market framework – BEIS – Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (December 2018)
The government’s Clean Growth Strategy sets out a significant role for heat networks as a ‘low-regrets’ component of meeting our legally binding decarbonisation commitments. This requires a major increase in growth rates and investment in the UK heat network market, supported by effective consumer protection measures. This document sets out:
• the context of the government’s support for heat networks and the role of the sector in the decarbonisation of heat
• the government’s priorities for establishing a market framework to deliver this growth in a way that protects consumers and delivers sustained investment as well as maximising the potential economic and environmental benefits from heat networks
It is a response to the CMA’s heat networks market study, and the ADE’s Shared Warmth report.

Heat networks: the experiences of consumers and operators – BEIS – Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (December 2018)
This qualitative research contributes to a wider understanding of the experiences of heat network consumers and operators. This work supplements the Heat Networks Consumer Survey published in December 2017.

Heat networks market study – CMA – Competition and Markets Authority (July 2018)
The CMA carried out a market study into domestic heat networks, to review how well the market is working and if consumers are getting a good deal. The report sets out analysis of relevant issues in the market for communal and district heating schemes on:
• prices based on a representative sample of heat networks,
• the supply chain, heat network delivery models, the potential environmental and economic benefits of heat networks, government proposals for expanding the sector and international experiences of heat networks,
• a high level financial analysis of the sector,
• in-depth interviews to examine consumer awareness, understanding and expectations about heat networks before moving into a property,
• future options for regulating the sector,
• customer complaints and reviewed key customer documents.
Heat Trust supports the CMA’s call for the heat network industry to be regulated and welcomes its recommendation that the framework draws on Heat Trust’s experience. Heat Trust’s full comment can be found here.

Experimental statistics on heat networks – BEIS – Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (March 2018)
The Heat Network (Metering and Billing) Regulations 2014 require every heat network supplier/operator to submit a notification once operational and at four yearly intervals to provide information on the status and performance of network(s) managed. This paper sets out preliminary results of the data collected, including total number of heat networks in the UK, whether they are district or communal, if they provide heating/ hot water/ cooling or a combination, where they are located and their primary fuel source.

Consumer Expectations of Regulation: Heat Networks – Citizens Advice (March 2018)
This project conducted 8 focus groups in 4 different heat network locations across the UK to look at the experience of consumers on heat networks, the complaints process and the perceptions of consumer protection and introducing regulation.

Shared Warmth | A heat network market that benefits customers, investors, and the environment – The ADE – The Association for Decentralised Energy (January 2018)
This report is the culmination of wide ranging industry stakeholder collaboration. The Heat Network Task Force, led by the ADE, considered a range of options from industry action to regulatory intervention. It considered how to best address the investment risk associated with long-term infrastructure like heat networks. The report sets out a comprehensive set of principles that are needed to give heat network customers the same level of protection enjoyed by customers receiving heat by other means.
The report recommends the introduction of a regulatory framework that provides those looking to invest in heat networks with 'demand assurance' in return for meeting customer protection standards.
Heat Trust welcomed the report’s recommendations, for more details see here.

Market report: Heat Networks in the UK – The ADE – The Association for Decentralised Energy (January 2018)
This report highlights the opportunities offered by heat networks through developing a clearer picture of the market. Information contained in this report is based on a survey carried out between January and November 2017 of heat networks in Great Britain, which represented one-third of the overall number of customers connected to heat networks in the UK. Information was collected from a wide range of organisations, including public and private actors, and the information covered about 160,000 domestic and commercial customers on 810 different networks.
Heat Networks Consumer Survey: consumer experiences on heat networks and other heating systems – BEIS – Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (December 2017)
The Heat Networks Consumer Survey is a BEIS research project into the experiences of consumers on heat networks.
The survey was sent via post to consumers between April and July 2017 and received over 3,700 responses from heat network consumers and nearly 1,800 responses from consumers not on heat networks to act as a comparison. The report sets out the findings from the survey and covers a range of topics, including satisfaction with system performance, price and transparency of billing, and consumer service.
Heat Trust welcomed the survey results which found that heat networks registered with Heat Trust are providing better billing and customer service standards for consumers. For Heat Trust’s full response see here.
Next steps for UK Heat Policy – CCC – Committee on Climate Change (October 2016)
Heating and hot water for UK buildings make up 40% of our energy consumption and 20% of our greenhouse gas emissions. It will be necessary to largely eliminate these emissions by around 2050 to meet the targets in the Climate Change Act and to maintain the UK contribution to international action under the Paris Agreement.
Progress to date has stalled. The CCC says that the Government needs a credible new strategy and a much stronger policy framework for decarbonisation of buildings over the next three decades. Many of the changes that will reduce emissions will also contribute toward modern, affordable, comfortable homes and workplaces and can be delivered alongside a major expansion in the number of homes. This report considers that challenge and sets out possible steps to meet it.
Research on district heating and local approaches to heat decarbonisation – CCC – Committee on Climate Change (November 2015)
This report is research supporting the CCC’s report on the UK’s Fifth Carbon Budget advice (the latest update on the UK’s legal commitments on reducing emissions). There are three core scenarios for deployment of district heating to 2050. The three scenarios reflect different levels of policy intervention to incentivise and assist the roll-out of district heating in the UK. It also presents possible future heat network coverage if certain policies and measures are put in place, such as providing 10% of UK’s heat demand by 2030 and 18% by 2050 (up from 2% now).


Existing Legislation

The Heat Network (Metering and Billing) Regulations 2014 with a few amendments made in the Heat Network (Metering and Billing) (Amendment) Regulations 2015, was made UK law from the requirements regarding the supply of distributed heat, cooling and hot water as part of the EU Energy Efficiency Directive requirements.

Key requirements include:

  • heat suppliers have a duty to notify their network to the Government
  • meters must be installed to measure consumption of heating/ cooling/ hot water, where cost effective and technically feasible, and install a heat cost allocator where not
  • sending a bill at least once a year, based on actual consumption where possible, and containing clear explanations of how the bill was calculated, amongst other billing information


Government Support

UK Government

The government has produced guidance for suppliers on how to follow these regulations. More general information about heat networks can be found on the Government website pages here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/heat-networks-overview, including their support provided for heat networks through two key mechanisms: HNDU and HNIP.

The Heat Networks Delivery Unit (HNDU) was established in 2013 to address the capacity and capability challenges which local authorities identified as barriers to heat network deployment in the UK. The Unit provides funding and specialist guidance to local authorities who are developing heat network projects.

The Heat Networks Investment Project (HNIP) is delivering £320 million of capital investment support to increase the volume of heat networks built, deliver carbon savings for carbon budgets, and help create the conditions for a sustainable market that can operate without direct Government subsidy. The pilot phase of the Heat Networks Investment Project ran for 6 months and awarded £24 million to 9 successful Local Authority projects in March 2017.

The Green Heat Networks Fund (GHNF) is due to replace HNIP and was consulted on in early 2021. It is a capital grant funding programme which is intended to help new and existing heat networks to move to low and zero carbon technologies. Its objectives are to: achieve carbon savings and decreases in carbon intensity of heat supplied, increase the total amount of low-carbon heat utilisation in heat networks (both retrofitted and new heat networks) and help prepare the market for future low-carbon regulation and ensure compliance with existing regulations (such as the Heat Network (Metering and Billing) Regulations, Heat Network Market Framework and the Future Homes Standard).

Scottish Government

The Scottish Government have lots of information about heat networks and their context in Scotland on their website here, including links to their Heat Map.

There is also a dedicated website for district heating set up by The Heat Network Partnership, which aims to boost the uptake of low carbon heat technologies in Scotland and focuses the efforts of a number of agencies working in this area.

The Heat Networks (Scotland) Bill, setting out regulation of heat networks in Scotland, has now been passed. For more details see our Regulation update page.

Further information will be added soon.