Low carbon heat networks (LCHNs) offer great potential for carbon and heating cost reduction. Despite these benefits, LCHNs provide for just two per cent of heat demand in the UK, when estimates suggest they have the potential to provide for around 43 per cent. These low levels of LCHN provision are in stark contrast to the Nordic nations which exemplify some of the highest quality and most extensive heat networks in the world. It is within this context that the Pioneer Cities project (the project) was launched by the UK government to help local authorities overcome barriers to the deployment of LCHNs. This paper reports the findings of an evaluation of this project, drawing on 86 interviews across five local authorities, analysed using elements of Actor Network Theory (ANT). The evaluation found that the project’s success has been limited. Participating local authorities have encountered challenges regarding marketisation, public sector retrenchment and inexperience in mobilising LCHNs. These factors militate against the formation of the robust actor-networks required to deploy LCHNs. Analysis using ANT reveals insights into why LCHNs remain elusive in the UK and suggests that policy makers need to strengthen local authorities’ ability to lead and deliver complex infrastructure projects.
Energy Policy – Elsevier
Published: Sep 1, 2016
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