Combined Heat & Power

Demand Side Services

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Heat Networks

Optimising heat network design and operation in the UK | ACE Research

16 January 2020

ACE Research, working in partnership for with the wider ADE team, are seeking partnerships to support an initial feesibility study on the need for a nation-wide dedicated heat demand and diversity data design platform.

The Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE) and Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers’ (CIBSE) ‘Heat Networks: Code of Practice for the UK’ (CP1, 2015) highlights that care should be taken to avoid oversizing heat networks, a statement that is strongly supported by experts across the UK heat network industry.  

Most networks, if conservatively designed, will have considerable flexibility in the heat demands that can be economically supplied. However, oversizing a heat network results in significant system inefficiency, leading to increased capital and operational costs, and increased emissions and resident bills.  

There are significant uncertainties when calculating peak heat demand for both new-build and retrofit schemes in the UK. Heat network designers need to use two data sources to underpin sizing calculations; peak demand per property and diversity data (allowing for the fact that residents will not call for heat at the same time).  

There are approximately 14,000 heat networks in the UK, yet limited data is available to support the development of datasets for establishing sizing calculations. Due to this lack of heat demand and diversity data in the UK, the Code of Practice recommends using data from the Danish Standard DS 439:2009 as this area of research is well developed in Denmark.  

Data does exist for UK buildings, but right now it's not shared between organisations in a competitive industry. There is an opportunity to build the argument and regulatory framework for the sharing of this data, for the benefit of all in the sector. We believe that publication of this data would:   

  • Support the UK heat network industry to optimise the design and operation of heat networks, reducing capital and operational costs during design and operation, and lowering emissions from the sector and to further develop professional capabilities of those working in the heat network industry. 
  • Support national and local government in the deployment of optimised heat networks. This could be in relation to planning and building control functions for local government, as well as investment and procurement decision-making from national government. 
  • Support consumers who have their heat and hot water demand delivered through optimised heat networks, lowering both carbon emissions and energy bills. 

ACE Research, working in partnership with the wider ADE team and Solstice Associates, want to understand the feasibility of launching a dedicated heat demand and diversity data design platform for the UK to support the heat network industry in optimising the design of both new heat networks and the extension of existing networks. We are seeking sponsorship to support the first phase of research, enabling us to scope out the feasibility of an online heat demand and diversity data platform. We have broken down the project into phases to enable multiple organisations to sponsor different elements. (Additional funding or sponsorship will be secured to deliver the second phase – implementation).

If this is something that your organisation could support, please contact Kelly Greer, ACE Research Director on 020 3959 9842 or email   

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