At the end of 2022, The Department for Energy, Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) announced the launch of the Heat Network Technical Assurance Scheme, which aims to create standardised quality assurance procedures and credible performance statistics for heat networks. FairHeat was appointed by DESNZ as the Technical Author for the Heat Network Technical Assurance Scheme (HNTAS), tasked with developing the technical quality assurance scheme for heat networks, which will form part of the upcoming regulatory requirements.

The Technical Author role involves developing the technical assurance scheme design, including developing normative documents that outline the technical requirements of the scheme and how to demonstrate compliance, as well as the governance and operating procedures for the scheme. Explanatory documents will also be produced to underpin the rationale for each design choice, outlining the cost impact and benefits of choices made.

FairHeat’s partner on the project, Gemserv, have taken the lead on developing the documents that sit within the scope of the Framework stream and have been responsible for overall management of working groups.

The Heat Network Technical Assurance Scheme is a significant development in creating standardised quality assurance procedures for heat networks. The Technical Author role played by FairHeat will help develop a robust quality assurance scheme that will assure credible performance statistics by requiring evidence of conformity with applicable standards. It will enhance transparency and accountability on heat network performance, and strengthen accountability for parties engaged in the planning, construction, management, and maintenance of heat networks.

Gareth Jones, Managing Director of FairHeat and Lead Technical Author of HNTAS, comments:

“This has been an incredibly challenging yet rewarding project. In coming up with a quality assurance framework for the industry, we have had to balance a wide range of factors and stakeholder viewpoints, across a broad range of different technical approaches and business models. To do this we have had to take a really structured approach, starting from base principles and building up. In doing that we produced a detailed set of explanatory documents that form the backbone of HNTAS. These documents cover a wide range of topics, from defining heat network elements to understanding the implications of non-assurance, identifying key failures, and establishing essential performance indicators. This has provided the foundations for then building the rest of the scheme.”

A year of collaborative progress

In 2023, the technical stream, headed by Gareth Jones, have been producing a series of explanatory documents that underpin the selection of standards and assessment levels required. This includes defining elements of heat networks, the cost of non-assurance of heat networks, the key failures of heat networks, and key performance indicators to be used within the scheme. The documents involve defining the stages at which conformity assessments will take place, the levels of assessment required, and competency levels of assessors.

The technical stream split into sub-working groups, centred on critical elements of heat networks, which are:

  1. Energy centre
  2. District distribution network (underground pipework)
  3. Communal distribution network (building pipework)
  4. Substations
  5. Consumer connections and consumer heat systems

Over the last year, a series of 4-hour workshops was launched for the sub-working group to focus on the normative document development, which will set out the minimum requirements and KPIs for each element at each stage of heat network development.

Overall, there have been 25 technical sub-working group workshops, bringing together 69 stakeholders from 44 diverse organisations. This collaboration has been a melting pot of ideas and expertise, featuring Manufacturers, Housing Associations, Local Authorities, Consultancies, Developers, Contractors, ESCOs, Trade Associations, and Professional Bodies.

At each stage of a project – from Concept Design to Operation and Maintenance – these sub-working groups have diligently worked to provide feedback on proposed requirements and key failures for each element. Their insights have been invaluable, shaping the discussions in each of the workshops.

Towards a more sustainable and efficient future

The final technical sub-working group meeting took place towards the end of December, marking a significant milestone. As the Technical Author for HNTAS, FairHeat is committed to not just meeting but exceeding the expectations in heat network quality assurance. The insights and contributions from these workshops are instrumental in structuring industry technical regulations that are robust, practical, and forward-thinking.

We extend our thanks and appreciation to all the stakeholders who have contributed their time, expertise, and vision. The participation has been pivotal in driving this initiative towards success.

If you would like to know more about the Heat Network Technical Assurance Scheme or have any questions contact at HNTAS@fairheat.com.