Combined Heat & Power

Demand Side Services

Energy Efficiency

Heat Networks

Heat and Decentralised Energy Conference 2020 | Reflections and Resources

3 November 2020

Our Heat and Decentralised Energy Conference took place on 23 & 24 September 2020. Read our recap of all of the action, and find links to catch up on all of the sessions here.

The Heat and Decentralised Energy Conference, hosted by the ADE and Energy Institute, took place on 23 and 24 September. We were delighted to welcome over 1000 virtual delegates to the conference, who attended 28 sessions and heard from over 100 speakers during the course of the two-day event. This year’s theme was “Levelling up with local energy”, exploring how the decentralised energy sector can lead on delivering local solutions for the decarbonisation of the energy system, and play a key role in a green recovery through boosting jobs and supply chains across the country.

This year has presented us with many challenges, not least moving our working lives entirely online, whilst still maintaining opportunities to network, debate and learn. When the decision was made to host the conference online, accepting that we would not be able to include all of the features and benefits of an in-person event, we wanted to do our best to make the most of what the online world would offer. Hosting the conference as a free event attracted a much wider range of attendees than we have seen in previous years, which helped to generate diverse and interesting discussion before, during and after the event. The Whova platform enabled attendees to network via discussion boards, polls and Q&A. It also meant that we could host numerous “tracks” of content, with sessions taking place across the two days to suit a wide range of interests. This included a number of invaluable sponsored contributions covering topics such as the challenge of decarbonising rural off-gas grid homes and the role of heat networks in achieving net zero.

The event kicked off with the Opening Plenary, chaired by Energy Institute President, Steve Holliday, and contributions from Juliet Davenport of Good Energy, Andy Parker of Calor Gas and the Chair of the BEIS Select Committee, Darren Jones MP. This included an announcement that the Select Committee would soon be launching an inquiry looking at the path to decarbonising heat in homes, setting an aspirational tone for the rest of the conference.

Following the Opening Plenary, delegates then had a plethora of sessions to choose from, covering all manner of topics from across the energy sector. In the plenary track, we had Dr Joanne Wade and Charlotte Owen of the ADE chairing sessions on “Activating Householders” and delivering place based regional solutions respectively, while those specifically interested in heat networks could attend sessions hosted by our sponsors SSE and Danfoss.

The conference also showcased young, diverse talent in the decentralised energy sector through hosting “The Future is Green” content track. These sessions were designed and led by young professionals, successfully showcasing future talent and innovation.

Day one ended with an interactive showcase to announce the shortlists for the Decentralised Energy Awards 2020/21. The Showcase was hosted by the ADE's Head of Policy, Caroline Bragg, and was attended virtually by over 100 of our members and award nominees. Caroline introduced a video shortlist for each of the 10 award categories, which highlighted the unique stories and qualities of each nomination. "Roving reporters" Amy Ritchie and Liz Warren of the ADE and SE2 respectively helped to keep the energy high as they reported back on comments and shout outs from the audience throughout the event. Read more about the Showcase and Awards here.

The second day of the conference began with a “TED” style talk from Sam Tatam, Consulting Partner and Head of Behavioural Science at Ogilvy Consulting, who discussed how using principles behavioural psychology could help us bring everyone along towards a Just Energy Transition. Following this, some brave volunteers entered the Dragon’s Den to pitch their innovative low carbon technologies that could attract investment in the UK energy market, hoping to gain approval from our expert panel of Dragons! In another session, there was a fantastic panel discussion on how embracing diversity in the energy sector will be key to delivering a green recovery and transition to net zero, as well as ensuring that organisations can attract and retain talent. In the afternoon, there were sessions on the future of flexibility, decarbonising hard to reach sectors such as farming and aviation, and an all-female panel of “District Heating Divas” exploring innovative heat decarbonisation solutions.

Finally, the Closing Plenary brought together all the strands of conversation from the conference and distilled them into a call to action: we have the knowledge, skills and drive to deliver a just energy transition to all, we just need to get on with it. Despite there being some gaps in policy and existing supply chains that require increased capacity to deliver solutions, we can look both locally and internationally for solutions that are already in place. Kerry Hayes, Project Manager at Regen, spoke in the Closing Plenary -that whilst accepting that solutions can and should differ based on local contexts, it is about getting everyone bought into the idea of net zero and ensuring that local actors are empowered and enabled to make the changes needed.

We sincerely hope that everyone who was involved in Heat and Decentralised Energy 2020 took something valuable from it – whether this was a new contact, a case study that may work for your organisation, or knowledge around a new technology. We would love to hear your feedback on the event and continue the conversation. Find out how to get in touch with us below. If you missed any sessions, you can catch up with all of the action from Heat and Decentralised Energy Conference on our Vimeo Channel.


Catch up on Heat and Decentralised Energy 2020 on our Vimeo. All sessions now available to watch again:

Interested in joining the ADE?


Have some feedback on our events, or want to partner with us?


Engage with us on Social Media:



We would like to extend a huge thank you to all of our speakers, our sponsors for their fantastic content, particularly headline sponsor, Calor Gas, and our exhibitors.


Calor Gas, Clarke Energy, Danfoss, E.ON, Kyotherm, Pinnacle Power, SAV Systems, SSE, Uniper


ACE Research, Edina, Energy Institute, EnergyMind, Flex Assure, Heat Networks Industry Council, Heat Trust, Hysopt, IEA District Heating and Cooling Research Programme


ADE Newsletter