Research and analysis

Evaluation of the Heat Networks Delivery Unit

Research investigates how and to what extent HNDU activity has assisted local authorities in their development of heat networks.


Heat Networks Delivery Unit evaluation

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CAG Consultants, in association with Narec Distributed Energy (NDE), were commissioned by DECC to undertake an evaluation of the Heat Networks Delivery Unit (HNDU) – a specialist unit established in 2013 to address the capability and capacity issues faced by local authorities (LAs) when developing heat networks.

The purpose of this research is to help refine future activity; provide formal accountability for the spend to date; inform wider DECC and other government departments work; identify where cross-government engagement is required to support the development of heat networks; and to help local authorities improve their approach to developing such projects.

The evaluation is framed around the following main research questions:

  • How, and to what extent, has the HNDU helped local authorities progress the development stages of low carbon heat networks?
  • What other factors, or influences, have driven progress by local authorities on low carbon heat networks?
  • What, if any, other barriers are local authorities encountering despite HNDU support – either already encountered or anticipated in future?
  • What is the demand for future skills and funding support after March 2015 for LAs at all stages of heat network development and building?
  • How effective were the arrangements for local authorities to engage with and access the HNDU fund?
  • What outputs have been delivered (by HNDU and local authorities) during the lifetime of HNDU funding?
  • What outputs and outcomes are projected to be delivered in the future for different local authorities, and how does this differ by area context and support received?

The evaluation commenced in August 2014 and is expected to be completed by the end of March 2016. This report presents the findings and conclusion from the first wave of evaluation research (September 2014 to end of March 2015). The second wave will run from September 2015 to March 2016 and will be reported separately.

Published 3 September 2015