In addition to their many environmental benefits, district heating networks can now be used in the fight against poverty!
This is the startling claim made in a report released by the SSE this week, in a joint publication with the University of Edinburgh. The SSE, formerly Scottish and Southern Electric, is one of the largest operators of heating networks in the UK.
The report concerned a heating system installed in 2013 in the district of Wyndford, Glasgow, in a public housing complex in a deprived urban area where the poverty rate is higher than the UK average.
A 5-km network provides heat through a 1.2 MW cogeneration plant, three 4.5 MW gas boilers and a 120 000 litre storage unit.
The report claims that after the network was installed, there was a 50% drop in the number of tenants who said that they needed to reduce their spending on food in order to pay their heating bills.
Similarly, the number of tenants who were forced to postpone the payment of other bills to pay their heating bills also fell by 40%, while only 4% of tenants felt they had been cold this winter, compared to 53% before the new heating network was installed.
David Raley, the project manager with Vital Energi, which operates the network, commented on the study, saying:
“The Wyndford project’s biggest success is demonstrating how retrofit projects in social housing help alleviate fuel poverty. This is unlikely to be a surprise to proponents of district heating in the UK but district heating projects can be complex, involve many partners and require local leadership to make them happen.”