BEIS heat network zoning: modelling tool

Heat network zoning is a new method to decarbonise heating. We supported the UK's energy authority to develop a modelling tool to provide an automated way of initial zone identification.
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According to the UK Government Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), approximately 2% of the UK’s heat demand is currently supplied by heat networks, also known as district heating. The UK Government estimates a rise in the demand to 18% by 2050 with government support.

To accelerate the roll-out of heat networks, central and local government are collaborating with industry and local stakeholders to identify and designate areas as heat network zones, where low carbon heat can be provided at the lowest possible cost. Through designation and greater demand surety, BEIS anticipates that increased consumer and investor confidence in heat networks will lead to larger uptake and faster delivery.

In support of this policy, BEIS launched a pilot programme in England in January 2022 to develop, test, and refine different approaches to heat network zoning.

28 towns and cities across England participate in the pilot. Ramboll is leading the pilot in Bristol, Kingston-Upon-Hull and the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.

In parallel and with support from Ramboll, BEIS is developing a modelling tool to provide an automated way of initial zone identification.

Ramboll supports the modelling teams in model design and local data collection and provision. This work involves identifying and engaging with a range of local stakeholders, in partnership with the local authority. Ramboll has engaged with stakeholders to obtain data and information on buildings’ energy demands and potential heat sources, including waste heat recovery from industry, to determine potentially viable heat network areas which may be designated as heat network zones.

Two-stage delivery

The project is split into two key stages (see diagram). In the first phase, the methodology and modelling tool will identify potential zones within each of the pilot cities using national datasets. Ramboll will then use a localised version of the tool to refine the results further.

Afterwards, Ramboll will conduct a techno-economic assessment of the proposed zones to establish the costs and benefits of large-scale heat network deployment. Establishing a robust data-driven evidence base is key to the successful rollout of heat network zone identification, which BEIS intends to deploy nationwide by 2025.

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Engage with us

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  • Guy Milligan

    Associate, Energy Strategy & Planning

    +44 7583 107816

  • Lucy Padfield


    +44 7967 799431