Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Press Releases

Show all news items

Roundtable showcases the University of Warwick’s sustainable heat network system

The University of Warwick has showcased its leading role in research into decarbonisation at a roundtable event.

The event, attended by key figures from government, industry, and academia, including Baroness Sheehan, Chair of the House of Lords Environment and Climate Change Select Committee, focused on heat networks.

Heat networks have a vital role to play in the race to decarbonise UK heating and cooling, a sector that currently accounts for over a third of UK emissions. They supply heat from a central source to consumers, via a network of underground pipes carrying hot water. This approach, as opposed to one where individual buildings generate their own heat (e.g. from a gas boiler), is seen as a leading solution to decarbonising the UK’s heating and cooling sector.

The University of Warwick is itself heated by a 23km heat network that sees hot water delivered to campus buildings from three energy centres and is embarking on an ambitious programme to decarbonise its own heat network infrastructure as part of its ‘Way to Sustainable’ agenda. Heat networks are already commonplace in many European countries, including Denmark where 64% of all private households are connected to a heat network.

The roundtable, held at The Shard in London, was an opportunity to showcase the University’s commitments to decarbonisation among representatives from key government departments, including HM Treasury and the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero.

Organised by the University’s School of Engineering, in collaboration with Warwick Business School, the event formed part of the EPSRC-funded LoT-NET research programme that investigates how heat sources and thermal storage can feed into low temperature heat networks. The £5.4 million programme is steered by an Advisory Board that includes representatives from large businesses including Sainsbury's and SSE Energy Solutions, many of whom attended the roundtable event.

Baroness Sheehan said: “Congratulations on a very informative event and on getting some of the key players around the table. We need to improve policy clarity on heat networks to get the public on side and give clear signals of direction of travel so that business can grab hold of the opportunities presented with confidence and run with it.”

Dr Stan Shire, School of Engineering, University of Warwick and co-lead of the LoT-NET programme said: “After such a successful event, it’s clear to see that heat networks will act as an enabler for other technologies in the effort towards the decarbonisation of heat. We have heard about the policy, economic and social frameworks required to accelerate technology deployment. The UK heating and cooling sector is by far the most challenging to decarbonise and so bringing people together in this way is crucial in starting a dialogue amongst all stakeholders to tackle this multidisciplinary challenge.”

Note to editors:

The LoT-NET programme has seen academics in the School of Engineering and Warwick Business School work with the University’s Estates team to analyse and improve the University’s extensive heat network, undertaking building characterisation and low temperature heat network simulations to assess the impact from introducing heat pumps to the network. The programme is a six-year collaborative programme grant led by the University of Warwick. Other major partners include London South Bank University, Loughborough University and Ulster University.

The event was organised by the Sustainable Thermal Energy Technologies research group in the School of Engineering. In 2019 the group launched new facilities after receiving funding from government via the Energy Research Accelerator, a £60m investment by Innovate UK into energy research facilities in the Midlands.


19 April 2024

Fri 19 Apr 2024, 15:34 | Tags: WBS, Engineering, research, Environment, energy, sustainability, Sciences