Warmth may also be taken out of rivers, the sea, and old coalmines using heat pumps whilst heat from industries and incineration could be captured and piped to homes, hospitals, schools and offices.
These ideas are being considered as part of a heating revolution, driven by the UK’s commitment to combat climate change by ending the burning of gas for heat.
Government advisors have said that a fifth of heat needed for buildings could come from so-called district heat networks – grids of pipes laid under city streets to convey warm water generated at a centralised location by low-carbon technology.
So far, the focus has been on heat pumps or hydrogen as the only contenders for alternatives to gas. In a poll conducted on Renewable Energy Installer’s LinkedIn page, 79% of you voted for heat pumps as the strongest option, with the remaining 21% voting for hydrogen.
However, Chris Stark from the government’s advisory Climate Change Committee reportedly said: “It’s really important to get district heating into the discussion. It’s so appealing in population-dense cities.
“And it’s the best answer for conservation areas, because it offers a low-carbon solution for housing where it would be difficult or expensive to upgrade the fabric of the building itself.”
Simon Woodward from the industry body UK District Energy Association (UKDEA) also said: “There’s enough heat wasted every day in the UK from industry and other sources to heat every home.
“The big question is: how do we capture that waste heat and get it to the places that need the heat?”
The government is working on a plan to define zones suitable for district heating by 2025.
Tell us your thoughts. Could this be a workable solution to heat homes in the UK? What are your views – or your customers’ views – on the ban of gas boiler sales from 2025?