This is an excerpt from the minutes from our meeting in June 2018

Heat Networks in London and Copenhagen: lessons and insights

Lucy Padfield, Ramboll


As the ex-Energy Manager at LB Islington, Lucy began by recapping on her experiences of the Bunhill District Heating Scheme. Since 2000 there’s been:

  •  10 feasibility studies
  •  3 masterplans
  •  15 projects
  •  12 funding bids
  •  2 delivered schemes

It can all take a while - but momentum is now faster so don’t lose heart!


Islington took a municipal approach and retained ownership of the asset. All financial benefits are fed back into the scheme to help connected residents. This also means Islington has control of the risks.


Phase 2 will be the first EU project to take waste heat from the metro to feed existing homes (not new build). It will also include cooling in the summer (TfL have just installed a new reversible fan). The Bunhill 1 Energy Centre will also be moved: it was containerised just in case this happened - the wooden facade is just a fence.


Lucy has recently returned from a trip to Denmark and shared the following insights:

  •  In Copenhagen, the Danes have built something amazing: we’re still scratching our heads
  • Their city-wide system provides a buffer/battery (eg if there’s a lot of wind it gets converted to heat)
  • They recognise the natural monopoly of the system and so it is owned by the users at a municipal and co-operative level. There is also state ownership of other utilities which makes planning easier
  • Of the 1m people in Greater Copenhagen, 99% are on the heat grid (70% nationally)
  • They are developing a final energy policy to 2050, recognising the need district heating to help balance renewables.
  • But their concerns are not dissimilar to those we have in the UK:  governance (and how it can become a rabbit hole, taking up lots of time); approach to finance and risk; briefs need to be as accurate as possible - makes complicated procurement simpler; consultant reports can pile up - need to move to delivery