Over the past two months we have successfully assisted our clients on eight developments in London to tender and award £8.54m of district heating contracts. The scope of the contracts included:
- Design & Build of Energy Centres and heat networks;
- Operation, maintenance and customer services of completed plant rooms and heat networks.
Whilst the scope of the individual tenders varied, we always assisted our clients in delivering the same overriding objectives:
- Ensuring the resilient supply of heat to customers through the use of specialist district heating contractors with high reputations in the industry;
- Ensuring that resident heat bills are kept to the lowest reasonable level for the service provided and the characteristics of the scheme
Through these tendering processes we are able to share a number of lessons. These include:
- Ensuring that the most appropriate energy strategy for developments is secured at planning stage. Communal heating is most appropriate for larger developments where economies of scale can keep resident heat prices at a reasonable level. Schemes below 200 homes are generally subject to higher heat bills than with individual boilers;
- Importance of tendering for operational contracts prior to selecting dwelling Heat Interface Units, heat meters and data acquisition systems. Unsuitable equipment can give rise to inaccurate billing & customer complaints, with costs associated for replacing equipment with robust alternatives;
- Importance of selecting fully open protocol systems that can be operated and accessed by any operator;
- On large schemes the importance of preparing a district heating masterplan prior to construction, to ensure that the detailed design delivers the desired benefits in terms of lean design, resilient heat supply and being ESCO-ready.