Siemens has developed the first Smart Pay as You Go (PAYG) service for district heat networks, which could reduce total lifetime cost by £1 million and provide an ease of service to customers. The service will launch in 2019.
Compared to current metering solutions and based on the size of the network, total lifetime savings exceed £1 million over 10 years, and up to £6 million over 30 years. The savings stem from simple, low cost installation as bespoke hardware is not needed and 30% lower costs to serve from reduced service visits and administration
The solution allows households to see their usage and top up their account balance via an app, while the heat network operator can control tariff rates. The smart solution also protects vulnerable groups from disconnection and automatically activates friendly credit to keep a heat supply running.
The solution works with the network operators existing IT systems and means they have instant access to usage data. Furthermore, additional data analytics services can help to make the network more efficient.
There are currently 500,000 district heating connections across the UK with plans to increase this to 5.7 million by 2050 – from both new build developments and retrofitting existing buildings.
Smart PAYG is one of a series of project Siemens is working on to digitalise the heat network to create the smart cities of the future. The service will be available for new build and as a retrofit to existing networks and could eventually integrate electricity and gas, to manage demand across all the utilities.
Siemens believes that with hard targets to reduce carbon emissions, increasing the use of district heating has an important role to play alongside electrification.
Heating and hot water for UK buildings make up 40% of the UK’s energy consumption and 20% of greenhouse gas emissions. To meet the targets of the Climate Change Act and achieve the UK’s commitment to international action under the Paris Agreement, these emissions must be largely eradicated by 2050.
Stuart O’Neil, Head of Heat Energy Networks, said: “The move to fourth generation heat networks will provide a 30% CO2 saving as efficiencies are realised. However, this isn’t future-proof. For a fully integrated smart city, in which homes are heated and electric vehicles charged, at the lowest environmental cost – we need to be bolder and look at all utilities as one.
“Our innovations are using expertise developed in the utilities market and adapting them to new environments. Taking a digital approach to how heat is managed and paid for will allow control of the energy network for the operator, while enabling the prosumer.”