Carbon Alternative’s aim is to explore a community ownership model for district heating schemes.
The ambition is for some form of mutual /community / co-operative ownership structure. We believe the potential benefits are:
– Transparency for customers in all costs
– Any profits reinvested or used to lower heat charges
– Access to lower cost finance
– More appropriate balance of risk between customer / owner / operator
– Scope for lower heat costs over time as co-op grows and increased scale brings reductions in operating costs.
– Open book accounting allows active consideration of system improvements and expansion as a route to lower heat costs and widen the benefit of district heating
– Direct accountability for system reliability and quality of customer service
– Reduced bad debt risk as not paying is defrauding your neighbours
– Hopefully local advice from other residents regarding use of heating system
– Long term stability in heat network operation and ownership
– Potentially a good starting point for direct customer use of electricity from community owned CHP or solar PV.
There are many good examples of co-operative ownership of energy projects in the UK, for example the wind farms developed by Energy4All, but there are very few such heat projects. In Denmark, where district heating supplies over 60% of houses, community ownership of DH is common.
We are looking for potential projects – either operating DH schemes or project under development. We don’t have all the answers yet but we have a very good understanding of the challenges and good links with a range of organisations that have experience in similar fields. We are hopeful that grant funding could be found to develop the community ownership model. Please do contract us if you have any potential projects where community ownership might be of interest.