London Plan Chapter 5 2x1

Policy 5.5 Decentralised energy networks



A  The Mayor expects 25 per cent of the heat and power used in London to be generated through the use of localised decentralised energy systems by 2025. In order to achieve this target the Mayor prioritises the development of decentralised heating and cooling networks at the development and area wide levels, including larger scale heat transmission networks.

LDF preparation

B  Within LDFs boroughs should develop policies and proposals to identify and establish decentralised energy network opportunities.  Boroughs may choose to develop this as a supplementary planning document and work jointly with neighbouring boroughs to realise wider decentralised energy network opportunities. As a minimum boroughs should:

a  identify and safeguard existing heating and cooling networks

b  identify opportunities for expanding existing networks and establishing new networks. Boroughs should use the London Heat Map tool and consider any new developments, planned major infrastructure works and energy supply opportunities which may arise

c  develop energy master plans for specific decentralised energy opportunities which identify:

  • major heat loads (including anchor heat loads, with particular reference to sites such as universities, hospitals and social housing)
  • major heat supply plant
  • possible opportunities to utilise energy from waste
  • possible heating and cooling network routes
  • implementation options for delivering feasible projects, considering issues of procurement, funding and risk and the role of the public sector

d  require developers to prioritise connection to existing or planned decentralised energy networks where feasible. 

Supporting text

5.32  The Mayor supports the greater use of renewable and low carbon generation technologies, and has set a target for London to generate 25 per cent of its heat and power requirements through the use of local, decentralised energy (DE) systems by 2025. DE generates power at point of use, making more efficient use of primary energy by utilising generated heat that would otherwise be wasted in large-scale thermal power generation plants. Supported by planned development, London’s future district heating networks will evolve from natural gas CHP to being supplied by energy from waste. Depending on future technologies, the systems could mature into low temperature networks taking advantage of low grade surplus heat, minimising the need for primary energy input. Renewable energy DE opportunities including the use of energy from waste and biomass schemes are also supported. Shifting 25 per cent of London’s energy demand to be supplied through decentralised systems could save up to 2.57 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. Greater use of DE will also help London become more self-sufficient and secure in relation to its energy needs.

5.33  London has the potential to increase its DE capacity ten-fold[1]. The Mayor is working to stimulate a major increase in investment in the necessary district energy infrastructure required to maximise the opportunities it can deliver. Map 5.1 shows heat demand density across London, which when used in conjunction with other relevant spatial factors (such as social housing density, major development and regeneration areas) can help identify opportunities for DE networks (see paragraph 5.35).

Map 5.1 Heat density in London (relative heat demand based on fuel use kWh/m2/year)

Map 5.1 Heat density in London (relative heat demand based on fuel use kWh/m2/year)

5.34  Some boroughs have already undertaken technical and financial feasibility work to progress district-wide heat and power schemes, and it is expected all boroughs will actively promote DE in their LDFs. This will enable systematic identification of key opportunities across London for different types of DE systems. The scale of opportunity can vary from CHP systems on specific development sites, through town centre wide district energy projects such as Elephant and Castle and the Olympic Park/Village schemes, to connecting into large scale infrastructure such as the London Thames Gateway Heat Network. This could ultimately extend to 23 kilometres and supply the heat requirements of 120,000 homes and properties, saving approximately 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.

5.35  The Mayor has developed an online London Heat Map tool[1], which will help boroughs and developers identify and develop key DE opportunities. Boroughs and others (including developers) are encouraged to update information to this tool and utilise the heat map to develop more detailed local energy masterplans. The tool continues to be developed and updated as boroughs and others add further information into the map on heat loads, heat supply plants and networks in their areas. The Mayor and London Councils have also developed a comprehensive decentralised energy masterplanning support package, tailored to boroughs’ individual requirements and ranging from organisational capacity building to the identification, development and implementation of specific projects.

5.36  Boroughs should work with significant energy users, potential energy providers and Energy Services Companies (ESCOs)[2] to identify and develop DE network opportunities. Where an opportunity for a DE network is taken forward, the borough should connect its own buildings to the network wherever possible and identify potential sites for energy centres on either council owned land or in buildings. The GLA are developing decentralised energy technical specifications and standards in conjunction with the boroughs and other relevant stakeholders to ensure compatibility between decentralised energy networks as they are developed in London. Boroughs are encouraged to make use of these specifications and standards when developing network opportunities in their borough. They may also wish to explore the use of local development orders (LDOs) for implementation purposes. Further information on proposals to support the wider uptake of DE systems in London can be found in the Mayor’s Climate Change Mitigation and Energy Strategy.

[1]     Details can be found on  the Energy Masterplan for London website:   

[2] London Energy Partnership. Making ESCOs Work: Guidance and Advice on setting up and delivering ESCOs. LEP, 2007

[1]     DEFRA. Analysis of the UK potential for Combined Heat and Power. Defra, October 2007