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District heating support must be simplified

Financial incentives for district heating schemes have become too complex according to the University of Edinburgh’s energy and sustainability manager.

David Somervell helped oversee the installation of combined heat and power systems at the university, and these played a key part in the institution gaining the Carbon Trust Standard Award in November.

He would like to see these systems extended to more buildings within and outside the university, but said: 'The university benefited from grant support from the short-lived Community Energy Programme for our £12m investment in three CHP projects - without which we could not have done the work; but I'm not sure all the diverse parts of government really understand the crucial role CHP will play in a low-carbon UK.

“As a result measures are half-hearted, stop-go and often suffer from unintended negative consequences.

“CHP and district heating should be afforded the same political priority - and civil servants allocated - as nuclear now is. 

“If this were to happen I believe we might just achieve the 80 per cent reduction target by 2050. Simpler, more direct measures are needed rather than the so-called market-based mechanisms.”