A leading figure in the district heating industry has called for an industry-wide system of quality standards.
Mark Whettall, managing director of pre-insulated pipe systems manufacturer CPV Ltd, says that without them, the industry will make the same catastrophic mistakes it made in the 1970s and 80s.
Whettall says that problems arose in the past as hundreds of miles of underground district heating pipes were build in the 1970s with little consideration given to the design or quality of insulation. These errors should now be avoided in any new district heating developments which The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) would like to see constructed before the end of the decade.
DECC’s report published in the spring of 2012: The future of heating: A strategic framework for low carbon heat, highlighted the key role that district heating will play in lowering carbon emissions.
“Whilst there are many, good-quality suppliers in the sector, the increase of new projects will undoubtedly lead to an influx of designers and installers with little or no experience of district heating network infrastructure entering the market. It is of the utmost importance that all stakeholders concerned with the manufacture, planning, design, installation, operation and maintenance of the next generation of district heating networks take every possible care to ensure that the costly mistakes of the 1970s and 80s are not repeated,” said Whettall.
“Standards and specifications from other sectors of the heating industry were wrongly applied and although there were some successes, there were many more failures. In the decades that followed, many local authorities abandoned their district heating systems in favour of decentralised gas heating, but fortunately some, undaunted, recognised the true potential of the technology and they persisted.”
He added: “Collectively, we need to ensure that system owners and developers insist that their supply chain all use the new quality standards and all manufacturers work together to provide accredited training for the designers, installers and supervisors.”