On Wednesday 29th March 2023 FairHeat hosted their 8th annual conference bringing together colleagues, leaders, and experts in the heat networks sector to discuss key issues, showcase technical discoveries and present practical solutions. The full day event was hosted at the Building Centre, followed by a networking event in the Wheatsheaf Fitzrovia.

The theme of the conference focused on the Quality Assurance of Heat Networks and addressed key topics such as:

  • What is the general direction of travel with respect to regulations and the role of technical quality assurance in that landscape?
  • How do we setup our Heat Networks right from the onset?
  • How to deliver the next generation of high performance heat networks?
  • What can be done to turn around heat network performance, improving the efficiency and reliability of existing Heat Networks?
  • How do we address the skills gap and lift competency in the industry?

Introduction Session & Panel Discussion

The role of technical quality assurance in regulations is crucial for the performance of heat networks. This session explored the impact of quality assurance on a wider basis, including the interactions with other elements of regulatory change.

Currently, there is a limited amount of technical quality assurance being carried out in the market, resulting in highly variable performance of networks. To move forward, the aim is to integrate quality assurance processes into the end-to-end delivery process, ensuring that the base level for new networks is good performance.

The implementation of the Heat Network Technical Assurance Scheme (HNTAS) will deliver benefits to end consumers, developers, house builders, and investors by de-risking the transition to the Future Homes Standard and removing performance risk. Quality assurance is linked to other parts of regulation, such as consumer protection, pricing, and zoning. Striking a balance on timeframes is crucial, as undue strain on the market could negatively impact consumers and damage the industry’s reputation. Engaging with the sector and selling the benefits of independent quality assurance processes is essential to ensure it is seen as a way to reduce cost and de-risk the transition to low carbon technologies and the Future Homes Standard, rather than being seen as an administrative cost burden.

Gareth Jones, Managing director at FairHeat, led the presentation and was joined by a dynamic panel of guest speakers including:

  • Arran Mornin, Head of Heat Network policy at Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ)
  • Richard Bellingham, Head Of Heat Networks Implementation at Ofgem
  • Brendan McGarry, Principal Consultant at Gemserv
  • Lucy Padfield, Director at Ramboll
  • Caroline Bragg, Director of Policy and Research at the ADE
  • Phil Jones, Independent Energy Consultant at Building Energy Solutions

Stream 1: Delivering the Next Generation of High Performance Heat Networks

Michael Ridge, Head of New Build and Principal Engineer at FairHeat, hosted a series of presentations providing insight, practical solutions, and case studies on delivering the next generation of high performance heat networks.

Raising the standard for S106 heat networks

Ellen Hassett, Lead Engineer at FairHeat, presented on ways to optimize communal low temperature heat networks, and provided insights for heat networks in S106 adoptions, to ensure that minimum technical standards are adopted to drive good resident outcomes in a “race to the bottom” cost environment.

Hybrid Low Temperature Heat Network Design

Energy centres with a combination of heat pumps and electric boilers are a standard approach to deliver all electric and low carbon heat to communal heating systems. Jake Adamson, Graduate Engineer at FairHeat, presented his research on heat pump systems with optimised thermal storage for peak lopping.

LZC Large Scale District Heating Design

Michael Ridge presented on LZC Large Scale District Heating Design. The presentation included insights on City Centre District Heating for Existing Buildings and how the New Build team are breaking the boundaries to make inner city LZC heat networks a reality. Francesca James, Graduate Engineer at FairHeat, and guest Speaker Marissa Granath, Project Director at 1Energy, joined mike in the presenting.

Stream 2: Turning Around Heat Network Performance – It Can Be Done!

Structured processes and quality assurance are crucial for achieving really good heat network performance. This session, aimed for Housing Associations and Local Authorities, focused on turning around poor performance and reassuring the market that it is possible. Resources are available to heat network operators, and a blueprint is provided for them to follow. By taking a structured approach, even the worst-performing heat networks can be turned around, with resident engagement playing a vital role in improvement projects.

The session was hosted Tom Naughton, Associate and head of Operations at FairHeat, and Neil Mason, Head of Delivery at FairHeat, provided insight on the process, support available and practical case studies to learn from. Tom and Neil were joined by guest speakers:

  • Alex Trebowicz, Heat Network Efficiency Scheme project lead at the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ)
  • Joel Hamilton, Heat Network Specialist (HNDU) at the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ)
  • Mark Moore, Head Of Service Delivery at the Guinness Partnership
  • Anna Crosby, Communal Heat Network Manager at the Guinness Partnership
  • Louise Singelton, Principal Consultant at Gemserv
  • Dan Perager, Head of Heating, Energy & water at the Notting Hill Genesis

The Collective Push to Lift Competency in the Industry

This session covered how the performance of heat networks is linked to the skills of the people working on them, and how it is important to find ways to make this a positive correlation rather than a negative one.

The current lack of accredited schemes and qualifications poses a big challenge to the development of specific heat network skills in the industry. To overcome this challenge, we need to invest in Heat Network specific skills that support the growth of the industry and break the cycle of a race to the bottom in the sector. This can be achieved by rewarding investment in skills through technical assurance schemes.

Moreover, We need to attract capable people to the Heat Networks industry, improve diversity, and access a wider pool of candidates. With the upcoming Building Safety Act, investment in skills should be reinforced in the industry. The Heat Network Technical Assurance Scheme will play a crucial role in providing a framework for the development of training and qualifications within the sector.

Gareth Jones hosted the session and was joined by an expert panel of guest speakers, including:

  • Joel Hamilton, Heat Network Specialist (HNDU) at the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ)
  • Chris Ridge , Technical Policy Manager at TICA
  • Helen Yeulet, Director of training and skills at BESA

If you would like more information about the event or any of the material presented, do not hesitate to contact us on info@fairheat.com.