Less and less the map is a metaphor: with the necessity for local authority sustainability strategies, community schemes etc. to play their part in the UK’s future energy security and household comfort, the government, individuals and organisations like ourselves are developing more sophisticated ways of taking a view of what can be done where.
It’s the government’s latest effort we’re drawing attention to this time. Planners have a huge role to play in the UK’s sustainable future, and DECC is hoping to help them plot out, quite literally, hot spots for local renewable heat networks.
The fact that news of the new National Heat Map came out alongside details of the Renewable Heat Incentive and the RHPP scheme that we administer is telling: such incentives don’t work in isolation. It’s about building on market-building mechanisms with robust data and knowledge. It’s also clear that getting more renewable heat in people’s own homes isn’t the whole solution – community-scale renewables and networking are vital.
The map models heat demand density, covering Residential, Commercial, Industrial, Public Buildings and Total heat demand, alongside locations for Combined Heat and Power plants, Power Stations and local authority and regional boundaries.
Using government data and the wise heads at the Centre for Sustainable Energy, it could well prove the on-the-ground starting point for further feasibility studies that may get large-scale district heating schemes off the ground.