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Discussion > District Heating : Green schemes harming health & wallet ?

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Forced Green heating Measures are already causing damaging effects on health ..and wallet
In London District Heating schemes are being forced, as developers see them as a magic way around Green planning laws that require new apartment developments to be zero carbon.
The goverment dream is that centralised District heating schemes will somehow be more efficient and there CO2 saving compared to you having your own boiler.
Well that's what was done in communist countries.
but guess what ? they seem to be often working out ridiculously expensive and problematic.
They are throwing £320m seeding money at such projects , (list of recent grants)

but pensioners being asked in 1 case for £22K up front for a compulsory upgrade
Sunday ..last 10 minutes of this Radio 5 prog was about Community Heating Systems being pushed as eco, but then biting back.
They focussed on Shoreditch district heating system

Now they want £22k from each resident for rebuilding it. Plus tens thousands in future maintenance.
So that seems much more than just installing your own house system.

To be efficient and ecological the central system would save the residents enough back over 30 years to cover that £22K .. that would mean £700/year
I can't see that happening.
But then in operation there are often breakdowns newspaper story tells of a pensioner who died in his flat.
You see these schemes are excempt from all the normal consumer protection things and lock you into the same supplier for 40 years
a newspaper article explains

Many schemes claim to be green ..mentions are made of Ground source heat pumps,
... but mostly source of heat is opaqus so it's probably gas
An example is gas Pimlico DHU

Nov 3, 2017 at 11:43 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Feb 2017 Guardian said

“The green credentials of District Heating tick all the boxes for planners and how it’s operated is a secondary consideration. There have been no follow up safeguards at all.”

"In London, where new developments are required to be zero carbon, it is being used in most large estates.

In reality, though, residents complain of enormous, opaque energy bills, frequent outages and misinformation"

Nov 3, 2017 at 11:44 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

I think you'll find district heating has been a success where a "new town" or "new estate" type development occurred i.e. prefabricated "panels" built into apartment blocks. They where able to pump the "heat" from a power station/large factory in overland pipelines that snake (due to necessary 90degree expansion joints) for km's without any care for the environmental effect (visual or otherwise). And the consumers are still not happy.

It required central planning in execution and operation. Everything about these places was planned to such a degree that of course after the initial gloss wore off (shops, schools, clinics), it was everyone's desire to move to their own space,under their own control.

CHP has been around in the UK since the Singer factory. it was the source of so many many studies and site visits.

It just isn't that simple, if it was it would have taken off. It can make sense. Many of the old apartment block boilers where oil fired. Converting them to gas made senses. Taking a further step to CHP may be cost effective.

But... it still goes back to same issues with Wind and Solar. Does it make sense to invest in high maintenance, large capital investment projects, with a payback period of 20-30 years, often beyond the actual working life of the infrastructure (despite the marketing and design claims)? In a country like the UK?

It's like putting in telegraph cables with Wifi 10 years away.

Nov 5, 2017 at 9:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

Nov 5, 2017 at 9:44 AM | Jiminy Cricket

It also works with geothermal, if the amount of heat available is volcanic, and steaming hot.

Nov 5, 2017 at 1:22 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

I have seen (and lived a while in) several district heating systems that seem to be working just fine in Denmark and Norway.

I seems that the labeling of something as "Green" actually attracts "Green" people to design and implement these schemes in the UK. It also attracts unprincipled shysters seeking to foist non functioning tech onto simple shoppers who are spending public funds.

My local councils (Wiltshire) have been discussing possible projects / initiatives and what I've gleaned from reading meeting minutes and associated documentation is that they patently do not have a fecking clue, not at all.... they see assisted funding and budgets and ribbon cutting - the grasp of the actual functionality, operating envelope and basic costs of schemes is simply beyond them.

In principle community energy should be a no-brainer - but the track record of local authorities actually delivering is abysmal. I see from Bish's tweets that SSE are actually looking to get out of dealing with the peons. - it'll be interesting to see how Nottinham do.... a bit OT - but community heating schemes run by random municipals looks like a minefield for taxpayers....

Nov 5, 2017 at 9:55 PM | Registered Commentertomo

tomo, they are a no-brainer if housing developments are adjacent to industrial processes, producing a lot of heat that would otherwise go to waste. It also helps if residents have minimal ability to tamper with heat settings, or complain about reliability issues. The Communist Eastern Block loved them.

Heat losses from the long lengths of distribution pipework could be high, and Crocidolite was very cost effective. This is more commonly known as Blue Asbestos. The cost of maintaining anything encased with Blue Asbestos became prohibitive.

The Green Blob oppose burning of household waste, and homeowners do not want to live next to an incinerator. Industrial processes requiring a lot of heat are not economic within the EU, so have been exported to the Far East, which is too far away to send the surplus heat back again.

There is insufficient heat beneath the ground of the UK to make it worthwhile to "Recover" for District Heating Systems. Where there is a cooling tower, there is surplus heat being wasted. Where are they going to get unwanred heat from? Solar?

How is The Eden Project?

Nov 5, 2017 at 10:40 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie


as an aside ... burning household waste ...

- locally the pretty small town of Bradford on Avon , past winner of the Daily Telegraph "best place to live in England" and the London equity release hotspot of Frome just down the road are suffused with provincial preciousness and a plague of active greenies and anti-frackers (no shale here isn't a handicap to placard waving nitwits)

As the nights draw in it's obvious in the posher parts of those towns town that some of those "zero carbon" £1000+ designer woodstoves are being re-purposed to burn .... household waste.

Nov 5, 2017 at 11:32 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Nov 5, 2017 at 11:32 PM | tomo

I have found that free paper for lighting a wood burner is regularly posted through the letter box. Even more is available if you ask for free information packs about recycling, renewable energy etc, and it gets delivered.

Nov 6, 2017 at 12:09 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

tomo, my wife's (large) village has just installed two large thermal storage tanks fed from underground by two deep wells - this is to heat the municipal buildings (probably oil heated before). With the added benefit of now being able to build a swimming pool for the village (a positive side effect.)

However, this was achieved only with large EU grants. And the village sits in an old sea basin (1000km now from the sea) where if you sink a well anywhere in the mostly sandy (rock free) soil you'll get a geyser effect after going down 20 or 30 metres.

They also run one of the largest solar farms in the country, paid for by the EU. However, the power they generate offsets the heat pumps. People forget that heat pumps require a lot of energy (just a fridge in reverse), last time I looked they use up at least 60-70% of the energy they generate, sometimes more.

They also have wonderful new cycle paths to nowhere... paid for by the EU.

If you don't ask you don't get.

Nov 6, 2017 at 5:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

"No Brainer" often seems like a logical fallacy

Nov 6, 2017 at 11:23 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Someone said that Ground Source Heat pumps are pretty good
I think it was @Tomo who quoted OU research.
I want to believe in green things, but these days I am inclined to disbelieve anything green.
I think hydro is fine, pumped storage ..not buying stuff etc.

Nov 6, 2017 at 11:27 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen