The HNDU was set up in 2013 as a specialist unit to address the capability and capacity issues faced by local authorities when developing heat networks. It has since run seven funding rounds, supporting well over 200 unique heat network development projects.
Our evaluation, led by CAG partners Bill Kirkup and Denny Gray, focused on the effectiveness of the HNDU in supporting local authorities to deliver heat network development projects. Our second report was focused on three areas in particular:
- understanding how HNDU guidance was working, for whom, and under what circumstances
- the decision making process of local authorities, in terms of financing and operating networks
- stakeholder engagement experiences.
Our research for the first of these areas was underpinned by ‘realist evaluation‘ methods, aimed at understanding what aspects of HNDU support works in which circumstances and for whom, rather than merely ‘does it work?’. This research drew on interviews with local authorities, consultancies and HNDU staff.
For the second two elements, we used more traditional qualitative research methods to explore how local authorities make decisions about financing and operationalising heat networks, and how they engage with stakeholders on heat networks, based on interviews with local authorities, housing development and health bodies.
Our reports from both waves of the evaluation can be accessed here.