It's clear - the urgency to act on 'net zero' and help fix the climate emergency requires a radical approach to transforming the UK's energy system. And this challenge is arguably no greater than in solving the decarbonisation of heat: the burning of fossil fuels for heat in homes, commercial buildings and for industrial processes is simply incompatible with the 'net zero' carbon future to which we are now committed.
Regen's new paper - "The decarbonisation of heat" - is part of their excellent "Decade to make a difference" series, and provides a must read for anyone active or just interested in the critical decisions needed to transform UK heat delivery.
Whilst the UK has made considerable progress in decarbonising the supply of electricity, heat presents a considerably more difficult and far-reaching decarbonisation challenge. Our heating infrastructure is dominated by natural gas, supplying around 75% of homes and non-domestic buildings with an abundance of relatively cheap heat. The UK is also afflicted by a building stock characterised by low building standards and poor thermal efficiency - in part the consequence of various shoddy policy and stop-start initiatives over the last 30 years.
As Regen's paper points out, coherent and long term policies are needed to massively increase consumer engagement, with effective incentive mechanisms to stimulate take up. Along with the 'carrots', there needs to be some big sticks in the form of ambitious and hard-hitting standards for both new and existing buildings. Most importantly, the market needs to offer consumers solutions which make life better whilst not resulting in excessive costs (and even worse, greater fuel poverty).
Big challenges call for big decisions and long term investments. Brave and bold leadership at both regional and national level is needed to set the UK on long-term and sustainable pathways to heat decarbonisation that can be accelerated through this decade and beyond.
Renewable heat is a core sector for Hyperion and we are lucky to work with some great companies who are stepping up to find the solutions that can meet these difficult energy challenges head on. There is much for us all to do... let's get on with it!
“Achieving net zero will require a radical redesign of heat delivery systems. In the next five years we will need to make some critical strategic decisions that will have far-reaching impacts for consumers, businesses and for the wider society. We must not be afraid to make long term investments, but it is vital that these decisions are clearly evidence based and taken in partnership with regional stakeholders and local communities.”