UK district heating faces call for new standards

A director of a district heating technology supplier has called for new quality standards in the UK to protect the sector from image-wrecking system failures.

Mark Whettall, managing director of CPV, which supplies pre-insulated pipes, claims that district energy’s image could suffer from ‘catastrophic system failures’ unless the resurgent industry adopts tighter standards.

district heating

‘Whilst there are many good-quality suppliers in the sector, the increase of new projects will undoubtedly lead to an influx of designers and installers with little or no experience of district heating infrastructure installation entering the market,’ he said in a press release.

In his view, the sector risks repeating mistakes made during a previous boom in the seventies and eighties. ‘Although there were some successes, there were many more failures,’ he said.

His call for action met a positive response from the UK’s Combined Heat and Power Association (CHPA), which is already developing such standards, according to Deputy Director Ian Manders.

‘I welcome that a non-member of CHPA has come to the same conclusion that we have,’ he told COSPP.

‘In November, the CHPA and its members made a commitment to the Secretary of State for Energy Ed Davey that we would set up a domestic heat customer protection scheme. As part of that we are looking at technical performance standards for district heating schemes.’

He acknowledged Mark Whettall’s view that a earlier generation of district heating schemes – largely block heating projects for social housing – had tarnished the sector’s image.

‘Now is the time to develop standards. I will be contacting Mark Whettall to see if there is a way he can contribute to the process set up by CHPA.’

Simon Woodward, Chairman of the UK District Energy Association (UKDEA), also welcomed the call for standards, 'especially if the significant growth in DE [district energy] takes place as we all expect'.

'We have planned a work stream to look at this in 2013 and whether we issue a UKDEA standard or work collaboratively with others will be decided by discussions taking place over coming months,' he told COSPP.

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