Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum

Heat networks in the UK: regulation and market frameworks, innovation and investment, and decarbonisation and the relationship with customers

Morning, Tuesday, 3rd December 2019

Central London


This seminar will examine key developments in heat networks in the UK including the current work on development of market frameworks and regulation for the sector - as well as next steps for incentivising investment, innovation and establishing a self-sustaining market.

It will be an opportunity to assess priorities with the Government expected to be consulting stakeholders following its policy paper on creating a market framework for the heat sector.

Delegates will consider what measures are needed for the sector to foster growth, with discussion expected on:

  • Guidance on developing business cases for infrastructure expansion at scale and attracting investment;
  • Priorities for innovation and reducing material, technology and operation costs for industry and energy suppliers; and
  • Creating a level playing field for heat networks and bringing district heating supply into established energy markets.

The Competition and Markets Authority study on heat networks concluded that a regulator should be established to ensure reliable heat services and consumer protection.

With a final government decision on regulation expected to be published this Winter, areas for discussion include:

  • Measures for enforcing developer and heat supplier transparency and protecting customers from poorly-built infrastructure;
  • Establishing codes on services and cost distribution to ensure customers are charged appropriately, including in the area of maintenance; and
  • Creating standards on quality for existing and new build housing stock connected to heat networks, including in privately rented accommodation.

Attendees will also assess what local stakeholders need from government to support investment and development - with discussion expected around the role of councils in advising on strategic locations for district heating, sharing best practice for infrastructure delivery, and the future for schemes such as the £320m Heat Network Investment Project in continuing to support project investment. 

Further sessions will consider priorities for creating low-carbon heating systems.

It comes with the Government recently legislating to reduce emissions to net-zero by 2050, and the Committee on Climate Change recommending that all new builds be connected to heat networks by 2025.

We expect discussion on how sustainability standards for homes and new builds might be established, in light of the Future Homes Standards 2025 - with attendees assessing how retrofitting challenges for existing buildings can be overcome, and the role of alternative fuels like hydrogen and biogas for decarbonising heat supply and improving energy efficiency.

Keynote Speakers

Bindi Patel

Head of Scheme, Heat Trust

Senior speaker confirmed from the Competition and Markets Authority

Adriana Rodriguez Cobas

Head of Assets and Operations, Vattenfall Heat

Emma Floyd

Deputy Director, Heat Strategy and Heat Networks, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy


Senior speaker confirmed from Citizens Advice

Dr Tanja Groth

Lead Economist, Energy and Environment, Sweco UK

Jonathan Phipps

Strategic Manager, Commercial Development, Stoke-on-Trent City Council