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Existing heat networks will not have to be fully decarbonised in order to provide Future Homes and Buildings Standards compliant heat supplies in 2025.  The government have issued a clear statement of intent outlining how new buildings subject to challenging CO2 targets under future building regulations will be able to connect to existing heat networks without requiring the removal and replacement of all existing plant gas-fired plant serving those networks.

Under the proposals, additional low carbon heat generation capacity will have to be installed on the network to match the additional heat required by any additional buildings to be connected.  Should these proposals be formally adopted, the impact of the Future Homes and Buildings Standards on existing heat networks will be reduced in comparison to wholescale decarbonisation or reducing connection numbers to these networks.

There will remain challenges around integrating low carbon plant on legacy networks and the impacts of any decarbonisation will be felt by existing owners, operators and customers. In addition, planning authorities may push for more rapid decarbonisation of existing networks which will have to be addressed alongside meeting the requirements of the building regulations.