How does Comsof Heat support Councils, Consultants and Utilities in heat network design?


Well, one of the things I hear a lot is that collaboration is central to making a success of the district heating sector. For municipalities this can take place within and between the different teams whose goal it is to execute the local energy transition. That means that colleagues from planning, development, asset management, operations, energy and sustainability need to understand the challenge in the same terms.

Councils want to understand the implications of rolling out a heat network, whether they are feasible, and they need to take ownership over the access and understanding of the detail so that they are fully informed so as to make the best strategic decisions.

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Councils are constrained by budgets, the breadth and depth of expertise within their teams. They need to know what to specify, what size of project fits and when to bring in external experts.

Or collaboration can mean working with other partners, such as designers, the supply chain and investors. In terms of delivering heat networks local councils are working collaboratively with utilities and consultants to plan, design and deploy these new large-scale infrastructure projects.

Or it can mean having detailed discussions with the other, public or political, stakeholders that need to buy in, support or vote for the strategy, plan, vision of the future.

In each case, continuing with the work of delivering a sustainable energy system demands collaboration. To collaboration effectively, we need to be enabled, informed and empowered.

This is where Comsof Heat comes in.

Comsof Heat is a heat network mapping and design tool that delivers empowered collaboration but how and when can Comsof Heat be used?

Our clients find that using Comsof Heat accelerates the development and deepen the understanding of the value of a heat network at the Pre-feasibility, Detailed Feasibility and Detailed Design stage.

The value of Comsof Heat for heat network deployment:

  1. Rapid assessment of heat networks for neighbourhoods of cities or whole settlements.
  2. Scenario testing by fast ‘prototyping’ of alternative options by re-running the software using different parameters, altering routes, reviewing outputs, tweaking again etc.
  3. More realistic costs for what it’s going to take to convert whole settlements to district heating.
  4. The process is heavily iterative where routing and zones are largely ‘tweaked’ based on user knowledge around things like busy roads, energy supply points, etc.
  5. Financials can be improved by using locally accurate costings.
  6. Good at communicating the current gap in finances between heat networks and gas and role of funding and public sector leads.

COMSOF works at any scale from dozens to thousands of buildings. It requires fewer man hours to provide more detailed scenarios that are easier to scrutinise and improve.

COMSOF incorporates a range of inputs:

  • GIS and energy data
  • Material and labour unit costs
  • Technical parameters e.g. operating temperatures and pressure
  • Heat network zone
  • Heat source location

The outputs are automated and include:

  • Building selection and clustering
  • Optimal heat source site selection
  • Network topology, pipe-sizing and optimal routing
  • CapEx, OpEx, Cashflow, IRR and net benefit analysis

Councils can purchase and use the software themselves, purchase the software and hire a consultant to run iterations based on the council’s data or specify the usage of such a tool in the procurement process.

Multiple scenarios can be calculated and visualised in a workshop setting. These scenarios can be compared against different feasibility, planning and finance criteria at the same time.

For all those consultants, councils and utilities getting to grips with urban heat networks Comsof Heat can really add value at the Techno-economic feasibility stage.

COMSOF outputs are compliant with the HNDU methodology to ensure it would be part of a compliant submission for HNIP funding if the project were to be taken forward.

As such Development, Technical and Executive teams can collaborate on developing scenarios and compare different, detailed energy strategies.

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