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The Progressive Policy Think Tank

The UK must embrace heat networks to deliver 81,000 new jobs a year and unlock £22 billion investment

Central and Local Government action needed to deliver infrastructure revolution and kick-start heat decarbonisation

A new report by IPPR, the progressive policy think tank, finds that heat networks could radically change the way we heat our homes and businesses.

Heat networks supply lots of building from one local ‘heat generation’ site. This is a very different approach to the individual gas boilers that most people have in their homes at present.

They are already common across many parts of the world, for example, in Scandinavia and other parts of Europe. Importantly they can be fed by a number of different heat sources, providing flexibility in the transition towards decarbonising the heat sector and moving away from a system that still heavily relies on imported gas.

In the UK, low-carbon heating for our buildings has fallen well behind decarbonisation of our electricity system. IPPR argues that heat networks are an important part of the puzzle, could serve at least 10 per cent of total heat demand by 2030, and provide up to 81,000 jobs a year and £22 billion of private investment in the UK economy in the process.

To unlock this potential IPPR are calling on the government to add specific commitments for action to the UK’s proposed Industrial Strategy:

  • Expand the resources of the Heat Networks Delivery Unit;
  • Guarantee the current funding until 2030 for the Heat Networks Investment Programme to give certainty to other investors;
  • Provide Ofgem style frameworks for the pricing of heat through the networks;
  • Work with local and regional governments to develop heat plans.

Josh Emden, IPPR research fellow said:

“If the UK is going to reduce carbon emissions from heating, then heat networks will need to be an important part of the mix of technologies we use in future.

“Coordinated action between Central and Local Governments could go a long way in supporting this sector’s development.

“With up to 81,000 jobs at stake, this is exactly the kind of opportunity that should align with what the government’s industrial strategy is trying to achieve.”



Becky Malone 07585 772633 [email protected]

Editor’s Notes:

  1. Heat networks are insulated pipes that run underground from a heat generating plant to residential, commercial or public buildings.
  2. The report ‘Piping Hot: The Opportunity for Heat Networks in a New Industrial Strategy’ can be found here.
  3. IPPR aims to influence policy in the present and reinvent progressive politics in the future, and is dedicated to the better country that Britain can be through progressive policy and politics. With nearly 60 staff across four offices throughout the UK, IPPR is Britain’s only national think tank with a truly national presence.

    Our independent research is wide ranging, it covers the economy, work, skills, transport, democracy, the environment, education, energy, migration and healthcare among many other areas.