Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7951044809 / +044 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7538736244.

Heat networks in the UK - investment, infrastructure, and developing and regulating the market

Morning, Thursday, 25th June 2020

Online Conference


***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will assess next steps for developing heat networks in the UK - looking at market development, investment, infrastructure and the future of policy and regulation.

We also expect discussion to reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic - and to look ahead at priorities for ensuring that recovery strategies incorporate climate action and renewable energy.

Key areas for discussion:

Developing the market and delivering the policy guidance that the sector needs, as well as:

  • reducing market complexity, fostering competition, and bringing district heating supply into established energy markets with a level playing field,
  • improving transparency and reducing barriers to entry and reducing developer risk,
  • developing sector standardisation, and
  • encouraging sharing of best practice and local collaboration.

Investment and building investor confidence, as well as:

  • reducing administrative costs and delivery barriers,
  • developing the business case and setting clear roles for sector stakeholders, and
  • the extended Heat Networks Investment Project and securing long-term private investment in district heating.

Regulation and what a fit-for-purpose regulated system looks like, including:

  • ensuring that consumers are protected and treated fairly - contract transparency, quality standards, supplier conduct, and equivalence with other utility regulation,
  • creating quality design standards for existing and new build housing stock, including in privately rented accommodation, and
  • voluntary and independent heat sector standards - lessons learnt, and the feasibility of translating rules on developer and supplier responsibilities to a national scale.

Infrastructure - and overcoming the physical challenges around the delivery of heat infrastructure, looking at:

  • working with local stakeholders to integrate infrastructure systems and connect dwellings, as well as to reduce delivery and material costs, and
  • connecting old housing stock to district heating systems, and steps for decarbonising existing buildings through retrofitting.

Making fuel supply low-carbon, looking at:

  • investment,
  • switching to hydrogen and biomethane,
  • the role of energy suppliers in transition, and
  • the potential impact on consumer bills.

Developments that are relevant to the discussion:

  • Announcements in the Budget of further support affecting heat networks and decarbonised heating, including:
    • An extension of the Heat Networks Investment Project (HNIP) by a year to 2022, and an additional £270m of funding to support new projects;
    • The introduction of a Low Carbon Heat Support Scheme to accelerate delivery of heat pumps and biomass boilers; and
    • Creation of Green Gas Levy to support the use of greener fuels like biomethane across the gas grid.
  • The Government’s recently released consultation on designing a heat networks market framework, which identifies multiple pathways for fostering sector growth - including:
    • Legislative changes to enable developers the same rights shared by other utility providers; and
    • Improving the reputation of the sector by leveraging public and private project investment and building cross-sector engagement.

The agenda:

  • Policy priorities for developing UK heat networks - setting guidance, funding support, and establishing industry confidence;
  • Supporting long-term district heating investment - reducing market uncertainty, utilising public funding, and creating conditions for private sector engagement;
  • Developing the business case and overcoming challenges for district heating - creating development standards, risk transparency, and a clear process for projects;
  • Creating a competitive long-term heat market - improving accessibility, local engagement, and reducing delivery barriers;
  • Priorities for delivering heat network infrastructure - local connections, working with planners, and reducing material costs;
  • Decarbonising heat supply, and addressing challenges for achieving net-zero emissions by 2050;
  • Next steps for connecting households to the heat system, reducing consumer bills, and innovating low-carbon heat; and
  • Establishing an effective regulatory framework for heat networks in the UK:
    • Setting codes and standards for heat consumers, and steps for applying into a regulated model;
    • Establishing transparency, expectations for consumer quality, and stakeholder accountability; and
    • Designing appropriate regulation - standards, customer protection, and alignment with other utility markets.

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders.

This one’s no different. Places have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Lords and the Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology, and officials from the MHCLGOfgem; BEISDefra; the Health and Safety Executive; the Department for International Trade; the Environment Agency and the Welsh Government.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speakers

Paul Steen

Department Manager, UK District Energy, Ramboll

Laura Nell

Head of Future Retail Market Design, Ofgem

Bindi Patel

Director, Heat Trust, and Incoming Head of Customer Experience, Vattenfall Heat UK

Dr Matthew Vickers

Chief Executive Officer and Chief Ombudsman, Ombudsman Services

John Saunders

Interim Project Director, Heat Networks, BEIS

Ken Hunnisett

Project Director, Triple Point Heat Networks Investment Management

Simon Woodward

Chairman, UK District Energy Association

Brian Tilley

Head of Energy Policy & External Affairs, E.ON


John Howell MP

Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Fusion Energy

Lord Whitty

Co-Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Energy Costs


David Watson

Director, Heat Trust

Thomas McMillan

Director, Head of Energy Consulting, Savills

Dhara Vyas

Head, Future Energy Services, Citizens Advice

Paul Barker

Energy Infrastructure Manager, The Energy Service, Bristol City Council

Senior speaker confirmed from Competition and Markets Authority

Charlotte Owen

Policy Manager, The Association for Decentralised Energy

Richard Kirkman

Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, Veolia UK