The world of heat networks is changing dramatically. Ofgem will begin regulating our industry within the next two years, and this means a big shift for everybody who’s involved with the process of designing, installing, commissioning, and operating heat networks. It is now more important than ever to think ahead and incorporate meters where they are not installed or retrofit meters that are able to capture more than a basic kWh reading and provide all six registers instead (energy in kWh, power in kW, flow temperature, return temperature, flow rate and cumulative volume).
We are already working with housing associations, local authorities, and developers to help them prepare for changing regulations affecting how they capture their heat network data, including providing them with a sensible and cost-effective option to capture reliable meter data on their networks: Guru Hub 3 Core.
Compliance with existing regulations
The Heat Networks (Metering and Billing) Regulations came into force in 2014, and amongst other requirements, they include a requirement for heat suppliers to fit heat meters, and then to bill customers based on the amount of heat they consume. Relevant properties must have metering devices installed, along with remote meter reading systems to facilitate the individual billing of residents.
Guru Hub 3 Core captures data for both credit billing, and every five minutes for network performance management via Guru Pinpoint. This means that with one device, heat suppliers can bill their residents based on their consumption, and see heat network performance data.
Future regulatory changes and reporting requirements
There are four key areas that we know that Ofgem is going to regulate: customer protection, technical standards, price, and carbon emissions. We also know that regulation is going to be retrospective – meaning that existing heat networks will also have to comply. This will be the case whether we’re talking about billing customers based on how much they use, or reporting performance data to Ofgem on a regular basis.
What this is likely to mean is that meters are going to have to go into dwellings on a much wider basis, and the meters that are in dwellings will need to deliver more accurate and reliable data for reporting performance data back to Ofgem annually.
Guru Hub 3 was designed with this requirement in mind. No wires makes installation much easier when meters and meter readers are being retrofitted into existing heat networks.
Reporting energy performance data to Ofgem
Ofgem has recognised that stakeholders must be able to verify outcomes with data by digitalising the way that stakeholders report to them as the regulator. It will become a requirement that a consultant, contractor, or client must show that what was specified is ultimately what was then delivered – all by providing data, including meter data, that supports this.
Meters and meter readers, such as Guru Hub 3 Core, will need to be installed where they aren’t currently, and the meters that are installed already will have to report more than the simple kilowatt-hour reading that was necessary for the Heat Network (Metering and Billing) Regulations.
Now, our entire industry will need to do what the team at Guru Systems have always known to be important: make use of all the data available from heat meters – that’s all six registers not just kilowatt hours – and make use of this data to monitor and improve energy performance. This data must be used to demonstrate that the heat network is meeting the expectations that have been set out in regulations and in the project specification.
The embodiment of this in regulatory terms is the Technical Assurance Scheme. To protect customers, and to keep prices and carbon emissions low, the fundamental task is to develop this scheme so that poor heat networks can’t get through. Metering and reporting on data will form a fundamental part of these regulations in order to monitor heat network operation.