More Money Toward Renewable Heating in the UK

By Anna Simet | September 20, 2013

It’s tricky to keep track of all of the funding, programs and incentives the U.K. is providing for biomass and other renewable heating technologies, and here’s yet another to add to the list: the DECC just made available £6 million in grant funding to help local authorities in England and Wales develop new heating and cooling networks, and expand existing networks.

The official announcement says that this can include any system that is generated off-site by renewable or recovered resources such as waste heat from industry, energy from waste plants and biomass combined heat and power.

To win a share of the funding, local authorities must bring forward “ambitious and innovative proposals” to develop and deliver heat networks that draw as much heat energy as possible from renewable, sustainable or recoverable sources.

The bidding process to apply for grant funding starts September 20 and will continue for 18 months through a series of six bidding rounds. Judged criteria will include the potential for commercial development, contribution towards low carbon and energy reduction objectives, compatibility with wider low carbon and growth agendas (where applicable) and a demonstrable commitment to robust project management and governance.

If an application is a realistic commercial proposition but fails to meet certain criteria, the DECC will offer advise on how to improve the application.

So where might this work? A college campus is a great example. Or, as the DECC points out, a recent successful example is then Olympic Park District Heating and District Cooling Network, which is comprised of 18 km of distribution pipes that provided the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games with efficient heating and cooling using gas and biomass boilers—100 MW of heating and cooling capacity, and could expand to 200 MW in the future.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to see even a portion of level of support the U.K. receives, in the U.S.? Not just funding or tax breaks or incentives, but how vocal and adamant the government is about renewable energy, and its exertions to educate the public. Unfortunately, our government can hardly figure out how to fund itself.

The U.K. is leaps and bounds ahead of us when it comes to tackling climate change, increasing renewable energy and reducing fossil fuel use (ex., the massive amount of imported wood pellets) and that’s definitely not going to change any time soon.

On that note, I’ll leave you with something a scientist from the U.S. DOE once said to me…”In [the U.S.], 50 to 60 percent of people don't believe in climate change, and that's a huge barrier to overcome…I think the only way it'll be overcome is if a huge piece of Greenland slides off into the ocean and disrupts the Gulf Stream; something will have to get people's attention and make them realize we'd better take action."