How SSE Heat Networks and SSE Green Electricity are transforming heating for a net zero future

SSE Heat Networks is leading the way to decarbonise heat networks across the UK, powering its own business operations with 100% renewable SSE Green Electricity

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Part of SSE Energy Solutions, the Heat Networks division provides low-carbon heating and cooling networks for private and public sector developers around the UK.

As a member of the Heat Networks Industry Council, SSE’s heat networks business is committed to helping all new heat networks in the UK achieve zero carbon by 2030 and all existing heat networks by 2035. This is vital for the UK’s plan to transition to a net zero economy by 2050 (2045 in Scotland).

Like all SSE companies, the heat networks business is aiming to cut greenhouse gas emissions from its own business operations to net zero as a first step.

By using 100% renewable SSE Green Electricity, the heat business can report zero emissions from electricity that comes directly from SSE’s own wind and hydro generation – decarbonising its operations today as it designs the low-carbon heating solutions of tomorrow.

Key facts about SSE Heat Networks

Nature of business: Distributed Energy

No. of heat networks: 18 serving over 10,000 customers

The challenge: To find ways to decarbonise the operation of the company’s 18 heat networks around the UK.

The solution: 100% renewable SSE Green Electricity for the Energy Centres supplying the heat networks.

“With SSE Green Electricity, which is 100% renewable electricity with zero emissions, we’re powering our operations in the cleanest way we can given the current technology.”

Emma Forbes, Head of Commercial, SSE Heat Networks

What are heat networks?

Heat networks supply heat from a central heat source through an insulated pipe system to a number of buildings or homes in one district. This removes the need for individual boilers in each home and can produce significantly less carbon than conventional heating systems.

Around 20% of the UK’s carbon emissions are generated by domestic heating, so heat networks are an essential part of our future low-carbon infrastructure.

SSE Heat Networks currently operates 18 district heat networks around the UK, including two hospitals. At the heart of each network is the Energy Centre, the centralised heat source that serves the network.

How does SSE Green Electricity help?

SSE Heat Networks’ Energy Centres use a mix of technologies, including gas-fired Combined Heat and Power units (CHP) and heat pumps. Leading the way is Wandsworth Riverside Quarter, a landmark development in London that uses an innovative Aquifer Thermal Energy System (ATES). Combining open loop ground source heat pumps with a gas CHP, it provides low-carbon heat, hot water and cooling for 550 residential units and adjoining commercial space.

SSE Green Electricity is the external power supply for the Energy Centre, helping the community achieve its zero-carbon status.

While there is a small increase in costs to provide heat energy from renewable electricity sources, this cost won’t be passed on to SSE’s heat customers as part of its commitments around low carbon, affordable heat.

“By switching to SSE Green Electricity to power our Energy Centres, we could significantly cut carbon overnight with no disruption to our business, so it was an easy choice for us.”

Nigel Dawkes, Head of Asset Management, SSE Heat Networks

What next?

Looking to our net zero future, SSE Heat Networks is increasingly using heat pumps and other low-carbon technologies, harnessing waste sources of heat such as from Energy from Waste plants, sewers, electricity transformers and rivers, to boost or replace traditional gas-fired CHP units.

Wherever the Heat Networks division operates, using SSE Green Electricity is perfectly aligned with the company’s purpose: to build a better world of energy for tomorrow.

Learn more about how SSE Green energy could help your business – get in touch today.