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Simon Carman, director of Asteros Advisers, part of Triple Point Heat Networks Investment Management talks to REI about the rising interest in the use of heat pumps in heat networks.

Connecting multiple buildings via a series of insulated pipes to distribute low carbon heat is not a new concept, and neither is the use of heat pumps to provide the heat source. However, the sector is starting to see these two technologies come together on a more regular basis.

Triple Point Heat Networks Investment Management delivers the £320 million Heat Networks Investment Project (HNIP) on behalf of the Government and the scheme, now in its 9th funding round, has proven incredibly popular since its launch. Over the course of these funding rounds, we have observed some interesting changes in the types of schemes applying for gap funding.

A third of successful HNIP schemes are now utilising heat pumps as the primary heating technology, and the latest heat network pipeline report suggests that this trend is likely to continue. The majority of HNIP applications are from schemes utilising either heat pumps or energy from waste plants whilst the older feasibility studies within the pipeline predominantly considered gas CHP.

The UK is starting to see interest in fifth generation heat networks that deliver heat through an ambient loop to individual properties that each have their own ‘shoe-box’ heat pumps.  These systems further enhance efficiency and have the additional advantage of property owners being able to choose their electricity supplier for their own heat pump units.

Heat networks are by their very nature technology agnostic, so it is expected that a range, and sometimes multiple, solutions are deployed in a single network. Successful HNIP applications include heat networks combining ground source heat pumps and air source heat pumps and we are also working with two mine water heat pump projects. These schemes offer substantial carbon emission reduction potential.

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