Heat accounts for over a third of the UK’s carbon emissions and presents the most significant challenge to achieving our decarbonisation of the economy and society by 2050.
Where do we begin?… For years now, most of our attention has been focused on solving the puzzle of how to move away from fossil-fuelled electricity generation to renewables. The switch to electrically powered transportation followed and has continued to grow rapidly, with electric vehicles becoming more and more popular, and charging infrastructure spreading across the UK.
However, to date, one very significant policy area, heat, has not yet been fully appreciated or addressed. Heat accounts for over a third of the UK’s carbon emissions and presents the most significant challenge to achieving our decarbonisation of the economy and society by 2050. At Gemserv, we were involved with the nation’s efforts to reduce emissions from heat from day one, helping to deliver major energy efficiency and low carbon heat programmes directly (Green Deal and Biomass Suppliers List). More recently, we began delivering the government’s Heat Network Investment Project (HNIP), which represents a big step up for the UK in addressing the low carbon heat challenge.
Through HNIP, with its £320m fund, TP Heat Networks have been actively supporting private and public heat network projects to get their projects across the line. Heat networks have been proven around the world as a reliable, cost-effective and low carbon means of producing heat, yet just 2% of buildings are heated this way in the UK. Heat networks are one of the main technological options to moving away from our natural gas heating infrastructure to new alternative low carbon sources. The challenge for this tech is the costs…we are quite far behind other European countries, particularly those in Scandinavia, that have long used heat networks to heat their buildings. Our supply chain and skills base for heat networks is underdeveloped, making these projects difficult to make investable. Through HNIP, we are seeking to boost the sector and help create the conditions for a self-sustaining heat network market.
With the UK looking to re-energise and recover from the impact of COVID-19, we have the unique opportunity to create the conditions for a green economic recovery. We are also hosting the postponed COP26 climate summit next year, where we will be looking to showcase our low-carbon expertise to the world and how we are going to reach our 2050 net-zero carbon goals.
We are very proud to be leading on projects that are key to a clean energy system, and we fully believe that decisive action is needed to stay ahead of the global climate and environmental emergency. Innovation and technological advancements are key to achieving these goals but must be supported by strong action at all levels of society – from our central government, down to the local and individual level.
Originally published on 9/9/20 at https://www.futurenetzero.com/2020/09/09/how-to-tackle-the-low-carbon-heat-problem/