Heating network regulations updated in UK

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New metering and billing requirements for heat networks in UK have been introduced in updated legislation, which came into force on 27 November 2020.

The main focus of the new requirements is on the metering and billing on the existing unmetered heat networks. The aim is to improve the energy efficiency of these with billing based on consumption leading to a reduction in the use of energy and a consequent reduction in carbon emissions.

The installation of final customer meters on new developments has been mandatory since 2014 when the first heat network regulations were introduced.

Currently approximately 135,000 domestic and non-domestic dwellings and units on the UK’s 14,000 communal and district heating networks are metered, while 342,000 remain unmetered.

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The new requirements, which are based on the EU’s guidelines for determining metering requirements, introduce three new building classes – viable, open and exempt – along with a tool to determine the cost effectiveness and viability of introducing metering into these.

In the ‘viable’ class meters must be installed, whereas in the ‘open’ class meters must be installed only if it is cost effective to do so. In the ‘exempt’ class meters do not have to be installed.

In basic terms, cost effectiveness is considered where over a ten-year period the projected cost savings due to reduced energy consumption are higher than the costs related to metering and billing.

“The most significant update is the availability of the long awaited cost effectiveness/feasibility tool,” commented Ian Allan, head of market strategy for UK heat network provider Switch2, which has produced a useful guide to the new regulations.

“This viability tool enables operators of unmetered networks to assess whether or not they are required to retrofit final customer meters or heat cost allocators into individual homes.”

Under the regulations, heat suppliers must complete financial and technical feasibility by 27 November 2021 and any required corrective action by 1 September 2022.

The intention of the new regulations is that ultimately all buildings are fitted with final customer meters. The feasibility test is to be repeated every 4 years, with the conditions expected to change in favour of installing meters over time.