Evaluating urban energy systems in the UK – the implications for financing heat networks

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Abstract

UK energy policies position urban heat networks as components of a resilient low carbon, affordable system, but, as Stewart Russell’s work showed, such technologies have never been integrated into UK provision. This paper takes Russell’s legacy forward by examining prospects for urban district heating and combined heat and power development in the context of the financial, rather than technological, innovations shaped by liberalised energy and financial markets. Drawing on sociology of markets and social studies of finance, the paper examines the resulting evaluation practices. Findings indicate that such district energy infrastructure does not conform to the investment calculus, making a business case hard to establish. Bridging the value gap between liberalised finance and district energy requires actors willing to devise improvised solutions. In spite of the established sustainability credentials of the technology therefore, significant deployment in the UK (and similar countries) will depend on political leadership and new fiscal policy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-67
Number of pages21
JournalScience & Technology Studies
Volume27
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014

Keywords

  • energy
  • financial markets
  • sociology

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