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The Thermal Insulation Contractors Association (TICA) has welcomed a £32m Government initiative to improve the efficiency of existing district heating or communal heating projects.

Launched in February, the Heat Network Efficiency Scheme (HNES) will provide grants to public, private, and third sector applicants in England and Wales.

The two-year programme also applies to thermal insulation in both plant room pipework and secondary distribution pipework, including laterals and risers.

TICA, the sole UK trade association representing thermal insulation contractors, has welcomed the inclusion of secondary heat network insulation as an eligible measure within the Government guidance – pointing out that poorly insulated pipework is often a significant contributor to energy loss.

Chris Ridge, TICA’s Technical Policy Manager said: “Thermal insulation of pipework is often an afterthought, resulting in missed opportunities to reduce energy losses.

“It is fantastic therefore that thermal insulation of secondary heat network pipework has been included as an eligible measure within the new guidance.

“There is a real consumer issue around overheating corridors because of poorly insulated heating pipework and insulating secondary heat network to acceptable levels should already be considered ‘low hanging fruit.’ Hopefully, the introduction of HNES will encourage more clients to address this important factor.

“Heat networks form a central plank of UK Government energy security policy and going forward, we can expect a real focus on quality assurance and the maximisation of efficiencies for future heat network schemes.”

With interest growing in the technology, it was estimated that as of March 2018, there were more than 14,000 operational communal or district heating networks in England and Wales.

While the networks are considered a cost-effective and efficient supplier of heat compared to alternatives, a report for the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy indicated that some existing heat networks were operating sub-optimally leading to detrimental outcomes.

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