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A Low Carbon Solution for Alnwick

A heat network is a long-term solution which will save time, money, and most importantly - our planet.

What is a Heat Network?

Heat networks form an important part of the government’s plan to reduce carbon and cut heating bills for customers.

Instead of each building having its own individual heat source such as a gas boiler, there is a common heat source/s and heat is distributed via insulated pipework to buildings on the network to provide their heat and hot water. Heat networks can serve just a few buildings or whole cities.  When a heat network serves multiple premises in a single building, such as a block of flats, it is called a communal heat network.

The source of the heat will depend on what is available and most suited to the location.  Multiple technologies may be combined on one network.  Low carbon technologies that are suitable for heat networks include:

  • Ground Source Heat Pumps

  • Air Source Heat Pumps

  • Water Source Heat Pumps

  • Biomass Boilers

  • Waste Heat (e.g. from factories or data centres)

Are heat networks new?

No, heat networks have been around for decades and are a proven technology.  They are actually much more common than you might realise, especially in Europe, and there are plenty large and small scale schemes in the UK. Approximately £60-80 billion of investment is expected in heat networks as part of the UK's transition to net-zero.


The whole of Copenhagen city is on one, and around 60% of all the heat in Denmark is delivered via a heat network.


 This is a proven technology. 

Is installation disruptive?

There is no getting around the fact that pipes would have to be laid underground, and the scale of the disruption very much depends on the scale of the heat network being installed.  However, where heat networks are technically and financially the best option, the short period of disruption during installation is outweighed by the long-term benefits of ensuring the delivery of low carbon heat for the coming decades.

What if the heat sources goes off?

Irrespective of the source (or sources) of heating, larger heat network schemes are designed to ensure there is back-up and resilience in the event of breakdown or routine maintenance.  This means you are significantly less likely to end up without heat and hot water than if you have your own, stand-alone heating system.

For smaller systems without backup, if they are well managed and maintained they are typically more reliable than an individual boiler. 


Should there be a problem it would be up to those responsible for the system’s operation to resolve the issue, unlike when your own boiler breaks and it is up to you.

Do I still control my own heating?

Yes, and in most cases, you will control your heating with exactly the same controls as you do now. You will have complete control over the temperature of your home or business.

Heat networks are designed so they can cope with fluctuations in heat demand.

Hot water is available ‘on demand’.  If you turned on your tap or shower, you will get hot water in the same way that you do now. There is no limit to the number of baths or showers - you won’t run out of hot water.

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Is by business included?

You will be contacted by one of the Reheat team in February to discuss your current heat use and heating system if your premises are being considered for phase 1 of the scheme.

Do I need a boiler?

Instead of a boiler, each property has a Heat Interface Unit (HIU) which transfers the heat from the insulated heat network pipes into the buildings heating system.  A HIU can typically fit inside a kitchen cupboard or in the place of an existing boiler.  It is a similar size to a gas boiler.  

How would I be charged?

Usually, each building or connection has a heat meter. This records how much heat you are using.  It is most common that you would be charged an agreed price for each unit of heat.  You may also need to pay a standing charge for connection to the network, but this depends on the business model for the network. 

Are heat networks regulated?

Yes. Heat networks in the UK are regulated by the Heat Network Metering and Billing Regulations (HNMBR).

You can read more about the regulations here

Will there be a public consultation

There will be a consultation on the Alnwick and Denwick Neighbourhood plan, which includes the possibility of a heat network. 

Should the network progress past feasibility stage it will be subject to a planning application to Northumberland County Council and a public consultation will be undertaken as part of that statutory process.

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