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Stakeholder engagement in heat networks: a guide for project managers

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The Carbon Trust prepared this guide based on an impartial analysis of primary and secondary sources, drawing on the knowledge and expertise of our heat network stakeholder engagement experts. The Carbon Trust is an organisation of independent experts with the mission to accelerate the move to a sustainable, low carbon economy. We operate globally from London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Washington DC, Beijing, Delhi, Johannesburg, Rio de Janeiro, and Mexico City.

This report was commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy &Industrial Strategy.


Heat networks have the potential to save carbon, save money, generate revenue, reduce fuel poverty and support economic development. The heat networks market in the UK has changed beyond recognition in recent years. There are new market entrants, new products and services, new support mechanisms and, of course, many, many new projects. This development of the market has been the catalyst for a number of significant improvements, but challenges remain. Robust stakeholder engagement is one of the biggest issues left to tackle if we are to see more and better networks being built in the UK. Stakeholder engagement is a thread that must run throughout the development of every heat network project, as well as its operation. When done well it can make the difference between requests for resources being refused or accepted, customers signing up or walking away, and investors backing the project or looking elsewhere. Poor stakeholder engagement is likely to lead to unnecessary project risk, increased cost, the narrowing of options and can, ultimately, lead to project failure.

This guide aims to give the reader a better understanding of why stakeholder engagement is so crucial, who they need to engage, when they need to engage them, what they need to do and how they should do it. Good stakeholder engagement relies on good judgement as no two situations are ever truly identical, but the contents of this guide will enable you to take better and more informed decisions.

The guide is intended for anyone involved in heat network development, but has primarily been written with local authority project managers and project sponsors in mind. Many of the considerations and processes described are universal to heat network development so will be equally valid to public or private-sector project sponsors. It can also offer valuable insights to stakeholders who are not project sponsors as it sheds light on the process in which they are engaged.


The guide includes:

  • Stakeholder Engagement Methodology
  • Governance & Vision
  • Stakeholder Journeys
  • Data Collection
  • Stakeholder engagement throughout the Heat Network Development Stages
  • Engagement Channels
  • Stakeholder Engagement Procurement Specification
  • A step-by-step guide to stakeholder maps and prioritisation grids


This guide can be approached as a series of connected mini-guides to different aspects of stakeholder engagement or stages in the project development process, but project managers and sponsors would benefit from reading the entire guide in order to understand the overall process and how the different elements of stakeholder engagement fit together.


Download the guide at