The Heat Network Optimisation Opportunities (HNOO) programme was a series of projects funded by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (“BEIS”) during 2020.
The main objective of the HNOO programme was to use data to analyse existing heat networks where sub-optimal outcomes are being experienced, and to deliver business cases for performance improvements to the heat network operator for cost-effective interventions which are associated with decarbonisation of the network.
As part of the programme, FairHeat[i] carried out analysis and produced business cases for ten heat networks in total. seven of which were operated by social housing providers. These heat networks ranged from 100 to 350 dwellings and were built between 1980 and 2015.
Many of the existing heat networks in the UK have performance issues which contribute to high operating costs for Housing Associations and high tariffs for their residents. Most of these have gas boilers and will need to be retrofitted to be able to meet the carbon neutral targets ahead of 2050.
The investigations and analysis carried out as part of the HNOO programme provides a good overview of establishing commonly occurring performance issues across heat networks operated by housing associations.
To assess the current performance of the heat networks, high frequency energy centre, block level and dwelling heat meter data was accessed via the Guru Pinpoint[i] system. This data was used to identify the root causes of sub-optimal performance.
Following analysis, a series of interventions was proposed for each of the heat networks to address the performance issues.
A model was then built of each of the seven heat networks and used to “test” the financial and technical viability of each of the proposed intervention measures.
The viable intervention measures were then collated into proposed work packages and financial analysis was conducted to determine whether there was a business case for carrying out the improvement works.
The most common intervention works that were financially and technically viable included:
All seven heat networks had viable business cases for performance improvement works. The simple payback for the optimal work package was between 0.4 and 7 years, with six of the seven schemes having a simple payback of less than 5 years.
The average performance improvements of 40-50% reduction in heat losses represented an annual average heat cost saving of between £75 and £160 per dwelling. One notable finding was that a carbon reduction of over 30% was possible though optimisation alone without the need for any major equipment replacement. Also, the majority of heat networks investigated could be made “heat pump” ready (i.e. reduction in primary temperatures below 65C) without any additional investment which significantly reduces the costs required to decarbonise these existing heat networks.