Project Data

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Heatropolis will develop a first-of-its-kind commercial and technical solution to create a smarter, more flexible electricity and heat network. Using flexibility, connections arrangements, thermal storage, and smart controls the project will deliver electricity load reduction to reduce costly network upgrades, improve network planning and support a cost-efficient transition to Net Zero.

What is the project about?

The operation of lowcarbon heat networks is poised to transform the way we heat our homes and buildings as we embrace less reliance on fossil fuels for heating. The challenge of distributing power to low-carbon heat networks is growing and BEIS estimates that by 2050 they will serve over 18% of the heat demand for buildings. 

Today there is a disconnect between DNO planning and heat network design. Left unmanaged, this will affect the planning and operation of the electricity network, and ultimately be costly for consumers. 

Heatropolis is a ground-breaking multi-stage framework, set to unlock better outcomes between heat and electricity networks. Intelligent heat network design and operation will deliver significant flexibility and electrical load reduction to lessen the need for costly reinforcement by DNOs. 

How we’re doing it

The project will deliver a highly scalable demonstration of accelerated decarbonisation for existing heat networks, as the methodology will have transferable properties for new infrastructure developments. 

Heatropolis will develop and trial a range of first-of-its-kind solutions including: 

  1. Enhanced integration and automation between HNOs (Heat Network Operators) and DNOs;
  2. New commercial arrangements for provision of flexibility services from non-firm connections; and 
  3. Digital customer connection optioneering tools and data exchanges. 

What makes it innovative

The use of innovative commercial arrangements, automated smart controls, thermal storage, and customer service tools to manage peak electrical loads of heat networks over the long-term, remains largely untested. In addition, combining the use of flexible demand connections with provision of flexibility services have not been designed and trialled.  

Today there is no incentive for heat networks to operate flexibly. Flexibility services are currently being used with demand customers, and so the project seeks to unlock flexibility from Heat Network Operators and their end-users to support an efficient and coordinated transition to low-carbon heat. 

What we’re learning

We have already identified several benefits from our work so far: from new processes, environmental benefits to operational efficiencies that would create savings to consumer energy bills.  

We were able to complete a real-life test on our use case site, King’s Cross heat network, where we conducted thermal response testing using building controls in a live setting to demonstrate the impact on heat network demand.  This was carried out in collaboration with energy management company Passiv and district energy network experts Metropolitan. 

Key learning from this and desktop modelling showed that increasing heat network investment in smart controls and thermal storage, can reduce heat network peak demand by up to 85%. This can therefore enable the electricity network to be more efficient and minimise costs to consumers as we electrify our heating in a drive to Net Zero.   

Considering environmental benefits, through reduced generation and electricity fuel saved, GHG emission savings can also be achieved, and Heatropolis will look to quantify these benefits moving forwards. 

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