The Bristol Heat Network is an ambitious project to deliver low carbon heat to existing and new homes and businesses across the city. Aspirational projects like this present some very positive opportunities for new development, but successful implementation needs careful consideration from the outset.
The network is already in operation and has plans for significant expansion. Aligning with the city’s One City Climate Change Strategy ambition to become carbon neutral by 2030, it has already seen the landmark installation of England’s largest water source heat pump.
To further realise this ambition, the network is strongly supported by local policy. Robust Local Plan policies compel new developments to connect to the network and a Local Development Order is in place to permit the development of the infrastructure required across the city.
As with any connection to an offsite heat network, developers should therefore go into any negotiations for connection with a clear understanding of what they need to achieve for themselves and future customers. Some key considerations include:
- Connection costs and capital costs of equipment required within the site boundary.
- Technical standards (many heat networks place challenging technical standards on the design and operation of buildings which need to be included from the earliest stages of design).
- Consumer protection and minimum service standards (including the contractual relationship with final customers in multi-occupancy developments, tariff benchmarking and change mechanisms, and whether maximum planned and unplanned supply interruptions align with customer expectations).
- Minimum CO2 performance (including how the uncertainty around Future Homes Standard compliance will be addressed).
- End of contract provisions and future resilience of heat supply following the end of agreed term or any early termination.