First round of funding for £288m replacement scheme will open on 14 March to support lower carbon approaches to district heat and cooling that make use of waste or renewable energy

The government’s Green Heat Network Fund (GHNF) will open for applications on 14 March in order to support work to commercialise and construct lower carbon systems.

The scope of the fund, which will replace the previous Heat Network Investment Project (HNIP), will provide grant support to help the commercialisation and construction of new lower carbon heat networks, as well as retrofitting or expanding existing systems to help curb emissions.

A GHNF overview document published by BEIS noted that applications for the first round of funding under the scheme will be opening earlier than planned and remain open until 27 May this year.

Two further rounds of funding are expected to open for applications over the course of 2022 as the government looks to replace the existing Heat Networks Investment Project (HNIP) with a clearer focus on lower carbon sources of energy.

A total of £288m is currently being provided through the programme. This will be available to public, private or non-profit organisations to support the creations of systems focused on using waste energy to provide low carbon thermal comfort at competitive prices for households and businesses.

BEIS stated that low carbon heat networks were estimated by the influential Committee on Climate Change (CCC) to potentially provide up to 18 per cent of total heating demand across the UK by 2050.

The department added, “They are uniquely able to unlock otherwise inaccessible sources of larger scale renewable heat and work within a hydrogen economy at the same time. They can also be used to provide cooling helping UK cities to adapt to climate change and the urban heat island effect.”

Scope of GHNF support

In terms of the specific types of work that will be funded via the Green Network Fund, the government said it would provide assistance for accessing heat sources. This would include capturing waste heat from industrial processes as well as waste and wastewater, or geothermal power.

Work to support low carbon generation of energy is also backed via the fund. This could include creating energy centres and other means of generating low carbon power along with the required plant to support this.

The fund can also be used to support primary heat network distribution that can include both below and above ground pipework to support the distribution of low carbon heating and cooling.

There would also be ‘limited support’ for secondary distribution measures that would solely look to upgrade existing infrastructure. BEIS said that heat interface units (HIUs) that include metering and controls systems were considered part of the secondary system under the GHNF.

However, tertiary systems, which are defined as pipework, radiators and upgrades to building fabric, are not supported under the fund, BEIS added.

The government has argued in its latest overview document for the GHNF that the funds will support upscaling of the the existing supply chain and skills base in order to create a self-sustaining market for low carbon district heat and cooling.

It stated, “The GHNF is therefore critical in order to lay the groundwork for a healthy thriving low carbon heat network industry that is well prepared for the future carbon budgets in the late 2020s and ready to grow even further to meet the carbon budgets in the 2030s.”

It was announced in January that some £250m has been invested in supporting heat network adoption via the previous HNIP scheme.  The HNIP will be fully replaced by the GHNF as a new lower carbon incentive that matches the government’s aims to decarbonise homes and buildings over the next two decades.


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