Potential for seawater district heating and cooling in the UK

The main source of the energy used for space heating in the UK built environment is gas. However, more sustainable and efficient sources could be employed that would not only contribute towards achieving the UK’s carbon dioxide targets but would also benefit the nation’s energy security. One alternative way of generating energy more efficiently is by the use of heat pumps, of which there are various types depending on the source of the heat and the sink utilised for the heat. One such source is seawater, and examples of seawater heating and cooling systems have been successfully implemented in several parts of the world. Presented here is a comparison of a seawater heating system in The Hague, the Netherlands, and another in Portsmouth continental ferry port, UK. Based on these comparative cases, together with discussions with district heating specialists, this paper briefly debates the current drivers and barriers for the future of seawater heating systems in the UK. It emphasises that as well as the financial and technical obstacles, governance barriers have also to be overcome.