After the findings of the National Heat Study, which found that district heating could provide up to 50 per cent of building heating demand in Ireland, the Government announced the formation of the District Heating Steering Group, which it hopes will play a key part in the implementation of the Climate Action Plan 2021.
The steering group, chaired by Barry Quinlan, Assistant Secretary in the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC) with responsibility for Energy, coordinates the rollout of policies and measures to support district heating in Ireland.
The group will publish annual reports for government, which will include outlining actions taken to support the expansion of district heating and the developing an appropriate set of legislation to support the growth is district heating in the State, with further advice on transposition of EU Directives.
The steering group, throughout the course of the next year, will be a guide for the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications by providing evidence-based recommendations on new legislation.
In particular, the District Heating Group will play an advisory role in regulation, finance, planning regulations, and research.
On regulation, the group has to ensure that it is in keeping with the European Union regulations on district heating and emissions requirements and will abide by EU legislation, namely the Renewable Energy Directive 2018/2001/EU and the Energy Efficiency Directive 2018/2002/EU. Additionally, the group plays an advisory role on the formation of legislation on district heating, as well as advising on the rights of consumers and the rules for operating district heating systems.
On finance, the group examines funding and cost implications and taking consideration of the policy and regulation options that might be used for attracting investment for district heating.
Planning and regulations will be a crucial test of the group’s capacity, with the State bound by the Planning and Development Act, which it will examine and outline options for district heating with the framework of the Act. It will further advise the Government on any new building regulations and ensure that new buildings are fitted with district heating.
The group will further make use of available date in the National Heat Study, and will use any expertise to advise on which areas of research should be prioritised and will oversee future research projects to industry standard.
Further to this, Darragh O’Brien TD, the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, completed the consultation process for the European Union Regulations on District Heating, which promotes the use of renewable sources, identifying “efficient district heating and cooling” as a district heating or cooling system using at least 50 per cent renewable energy, 50 per cent waste heat, 75 per cent cogenerated heat, or 50 per cent of a combination of such energy and heat.
Member organisations of the District Heating Group: