Government ‘must prioritise decarbonising heat in buildings’

The UK Government should spend the next decade developing a robust strategy for decarbonising heat in buildings as well as improving delivery models for mass deployment of low-carbon heat solutions.

That’s according to a new independent report – Pathways for Heat: Low Carbon Heat for Buildings – undertaken by research organisation Carbon Connect and published today (17 November) at a cross-party debate in Parliament.


Heat accounts for nearly half of the energy consumed in the UK and a third of carbon emissions. The report suggests that, by 2050, gas used to heat buildings could fall by 75-95%, electricity increase from a 10% share to 30-80%, and district heat increase from less than 2% to up to a 40% share.

The first in the ‘Future Heat Series’, which brings together politicians, policy and academic experts, and industry leaders, compares six pathways for the sector to 2050 from a variety of different organisations including: the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC); the Committee on Climate Change (CCC); the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI); National Grid; the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC); and Delta EE.

Key recommendations

The report recommends that the Government should:

– Scale up and prioritise efforts to prepare for decarbonising heat in buildings
– Improve the representation of energy networks in the national and local area pathways
– Commission independent studies of pathways for decarbonising heat in buildings within a small number of local areas
– Commission an independent study to bring together technical and economic assessments of tools for meeting peak heat demand in decarbonisation scenarios
– Improve its understanding of consumer and installer attitudes towards heat solutions to help assess how acceptable different pathways for decarbonising heat in buildings are from a non-financial perspective
– Present pathway analyses and their assumptions and limitations more effectively to improve their usefulness

Range of options

Inquiry co-chair and Conservative member of the Energy and Climate Change Parliamentary Select Committee Dan Byles MP said: “Firstly, there is no one solution to cutting emissions from heating homes and buildings, instead we have a range of options including energy efficiency, gas heating, electric heating and district heating.

“Secondly, now is the time to step up our efforts, prioritise and prepare for transforming the way we heat our homes and buildings.”

Energy & Utilities Alliance (EUA) is a sponsor of Pathways for Heat, along with the Institution of Gas Engineers and Managers (IGEM).

EUA chief executive Mike Foster said:”This report is most welcome as it adds to the weight of evidence policymakers have outlining the huge challenge the UK faces in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, keeping secure energy supplies and ensuring we can all afford to heat our homes.

“At the heart of the debate will be the future role of gas, the part that installers can play in helping consumers choose and the need for politicians to spell out more clearly the implications for all of us.”

Challenging but achievable

The ETI – a public-private partnership between global energy and engineering companies such as BP, Caterpillar, EDF, Rolls-Royce, and Shell and the UK Government – has welcomed the publication of the report.

Director of the ETI’s Smart Systems and Heat Programme Grant Bourhill said: “The decarbonisation of heat for UK homes is challenging but achievable. Today’s Carbon Connect report highlights the importance of heat to the UK energy system. In particular the report emphasises the need for local energy system pathways. The ETI’s multi-vector, multi-decadal EnergyPath software has been created to undertake such local area designs.

“Our work has also shown that to achieve decarbonisation, a system level framework is required to package known technologies into integrated, consumer-centric solutions. We support the reports’ recommendation that potential deployment solutions be tested at-scale, providing both an evidence base and confidence ahead of mass deployment.”


Lois Vallely

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