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Heat Networks

What is involved?

Heat networks distribute heat from a central source to multiple properties and are usually a cheaper and greener alternative to traditional gas-fired boilers in each property. An on-site energy centre generates hot water or steam, which is then pumped through underground pipes to provide space heating and hot water within the properties. Often, heat is supplied alongside cooling and private wire electricity.

They come in many guises and are otherwise known as district heating schemes, communal heating schemes and combined heat and power (“CHP”) projects. Government is looking to expand their use almost tenfold by 2050 in order to help meet its carbon reduction targets.

Some heat networks are large enough to attract and energy services company (“ESCO”) on a full-risk basis. Others simply outsource one or more services, such as operation, maintenance, metering, billing, tariff setting and customer services. Some schemes are best served by a hybrid of the two.

The sector is at the start of a major transition, facing its first wholesale regulation with greater focus on customer protection and service standards. It also needs to decarbonise by moving away from fossil fuels like gas-fired CHP towards renewable generation such as heat pumps, biomass, recovered heat, geothermal heat and hydrogen.

Freeths can guide you through the potential impact of both incoming regulation and decarbonisation on existing contracts and future-proofing for the inevitable changes.


We support across all phases of a project, including:

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Why choose Freeths?

Freeths offer a full service covering any legal aspect of a heat network project, including:

  • real estate
  • corporate
  • sustainable development
  • banking and finance
  • environment
  • public procurement
  • construction
  • planning
  • tax

Jackie Heeds, a recognised leader and recommended lawyer by Legal 500 (2024), leads our team of experts advising both public and private sector clients on various aspects of heat networks.

Jackie has also recently been shortlisted as part of the Legal 500 Northern Powerhouse Awards for the Lawyer of the Year award.

We advise on project of all types and sizes, including:

  • Long-term ESCO concession agreements where all risk is passed to the ESCO
  • Outsourced services agreements for heat metering, billing, tariff-setting, operation and maintenance
  • Hybrid schemes where some but not all risk is passed to the ESCO
  • Connections into existing heat networks
  • Multi-development networks
  • Retrofitting networks
  • Customer Supply Agreements
  • Housing Association Supply Agreements
  • Private wire electricity supply and export arrangements
  • Cooling supply arrangements


We can assist if you are:

  • a property developer, landowner, local authority or housing association installing or connecting into a heat network
  • an ESCO or service provider looking to offer heat services
  • a site owner looking to retrofit a heat network
  • a landlord or other heat supplier keen to understand how to ensure compliance with incoming heat regulation
  • a sustainability officer looking into sustainable development
  • an investor looking for new asset classes / investment opportunities
  • considering heat networks and decarbonisation of heat as part of your sustainability strategy
  • a manufacturer or other industrial business looking to recover and use your waste heat
  • an industrial site owner looking to install a heat network an energy from waste operator looking to sell recovered heat
  • a contractor in the heat network supply chain
  • establishing a community energy project

Watch our latest webinars:

  • We also hosted a follow up webinar discussing the decarbonisation and impending regulation of heat networks, and were joined by Barn Evans, Director at Turley and Arran Morning, Head of Heat Network policy at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy:
    Heat Networks – Part 1 – an intro and hot topics – YouTube >


Read our latest articles here, including:


Wider clean energy offering

The heat networks team sits within the wider Clean Energy, Waste & Sustainability team, which advises on all aspects of renewable energy generation, energy storage, energy from waste, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, electricity offtake and supply, asset aggregation and optimisation.

Meet the team

Heat Networks Lawyers

Chris Freeston

Chris Freeston
Managing Partner

0345 634 1725

Perveen Akhter

0345 030 5747

Michael Bray

Michael Bray

0345 126 3775

Robert Bruce

0345 128 6958

Alice Dockar

0345 166 6265

Jackie Heeds

0345 634 2606

Alex Johnson

0345 077 9643

Clare King

Clare King

0345 128 6950

James Larmour

James Larmour

0345 017 1122

Ben Moylan

Ben Moylan

0345 126 3758

Clive Pearce

Clive Pearce

0345 128 6990

Duncan Tringham

0117 472 5385

Lisa Wallis

0345 128 6952

Rachael Yates

0345 077 9578

Marie Mulligan

0345 340 4209

Kirstin Roberts

Kirstin Roberts FCIWM

0345 166 6299

Dominic Canning

Dominic Canning
Managing Associate

0345 126 4379

Stephen Evans
Managing Associate

0121 233 5996

Coralie McKeivor
Managing Associate

0345 126 4384

Liam O'Flynn
Managing Associate

0345 128 6986

Jennifer Roe

Jennifer Roe
Managing Associate

0345 404 1735

Amy Stolberg

Amy Patmore
Senior Associate

0345 126 4382

Reece Ballett

0345 128 6980

Samantha Osborne

0345 634 1721

Edward Peel

0345 030 5824

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Freeths are a leading national law firm with 13 offices across the UK. If you have a query about our services or just want to find out more, why not give us a call?

Contact: 03301 001 014

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