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Heating is a Hot Topic to Net-Zero

UK’s heating is at the forefront of discussions regarding the Net-Zero target of the UK by 2050.

Sustainable Energy Association (SEA) published a report that proposes the development of a regulatory framework on carbon intensity to impose stricter limits on the allowable emissions per kilowatt-hour of heating provided.

Similarly, a recommendation based on an analysis for the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) by Energy Systems Catapult states that millions of UK households should switch to low-carbon heating before 2030 to meet the UK’s target deadline for a net-zero economy in 30 years.

Pushing for regulations

The verdict from a study by SEA proposes the implementation of laws to get UK’s heating on track for the decarbonisation goal, which is set for 2050. This regulation will be the basis of heating-related measures, such as imposing progressive limits on the emissions brought about by heat.

The issue, in particular, involves fossil fuel and the government’s commitment to phasing it out. SEA recommends that it be taken off the gas grid within the next ten years to achieve zero-carbon heating.
SEA says households need to turn to efficient, low-carbon heating rather than wasteful heating systems and fossil fuel-based options since newer methods are more adherent to emissions intensity standards.

Additionally, the report envisions a long-term trajectory that grants manufacturers and investors the confidence to bank on low-carbon heating systems by scaling up investments, inspiring innovation and incentivising installers.

SEA CEO Lesley Rudd said the body’s proposal for regulation will deliver long-term certainty to the energy industry and its investors, and will also assure the public that the Government’s net-zero goals will be met.

Rudd insisted their proposal does not remove viable options for heating, but rather develop a low-carbon fuel framework that will benefit consumers. However, she noted that regulations need to be paired up with financial incentives to promote low-carbon heating technologies that are already proven effective.

Switching to low-carbon heating

Non-profit organisation Energy Systems Catapult rendered its expertise in analysing data for the CCC regarding clean energy transition. The body reckons a lifestyle change is necessary for the average UK household, particularly on home heating systems, and as well as air travel, diet and transport.

The report recommends local energy planning and smart control systems could help keep costs low and ensure an integrated approach to the net-zero goal. It also suggests replacing natural gas with electrified, energy-efficient technologies like hydrogen broilers, district heating and heat pumps.

Additionally, car sales to be made from 2035 onwards would have to be electric-powered or other zero-emission technologies like hydrogen according to the report. It also endorses more cycling and walking, train use and bus use for the net-zero plan to work.

The bulk of power needs to come from gas or nuclear sources, and other large-scale renewables. The organisation believes placing Carbon Capture and Storage (CCUS) technologies along with renewable energy solutions, can significantly reduce emissions. It will also enable households to add more flexibility and additional energy back to the grid.

Energy Systems Catapult deems the aviation and food sectors to be highly unlikely to achieve net-zero by 2050, which is why the body recommended reducing the aviation industry’s growth and changing dietary patterns through reducing dairy and meat consumption by 20% or more. It will cut wastes that worsen emissions from landfills. With these sectors underperforming, the Government should require the removal of carbon from the atmosphere to meet the 2050 target still.

Philip New, CEO of Energy Systems Catapult, stated that the UK households have to options for switching to low-carbon systems from now to 2050, citing the 15-year service life of the average gas boiler as an example. He views the tighter target as a driving force for homes to turn to low-carbon solutions as soon as possible.
New trusts that replacing natural gas with either hydrogen, district heat networks or electric heat pumps will ensure that the full decarbonisation of UK’s heating will be met.