Energy UK has launched a new report calling on the British government to kickstart the decarbonization of heating.

The energy industry trade body report calls for zero carbon homes policies, review of the renewable heat incentive and support for wider range of low carbon heating technologies.

Business Green reports that without rapid policy action the sector risks “being left behind both in terms of resources and focus”.
Houses of Parliament
The group, which counts more than 100 energy suppliers, generators and stakeholders as members, is also calling for renewed support for testing a range of technologies to help shift away from fossil fuel heating sources.

In addition, the report explores some of the barriers to consumer uptake of low carbon solutions for the heating of buildings – an essential service that currently accounts for around a quarter of UK greenhouse gas emissions.

While boilers and other heat systems account for around the same proportion of UK emissions as the electricity sector, power generation has seen emissions fall sharply in recent years as coal plants have closed and more renewables have come online – a trend that is set to continue.

The roll out of alternative heat technologies such as heat pumps, district heating systems, and biomass boilers has been hampered by relatively high costs and various technical challenges, especially when switching to green heat systems for existing properties.

The government’s advisory body, the CCC, has said meeting the UK’s target of reducing greenhouse gases by 80 per cent between 1990 and 2050 may be impossible without a near complete elimination of emissions from heating homes and businesses.

Energy UK chief executive Lawrence Slade said that while moving away from carbon intensive heating remained a “huge challenge” it was also one that the UK could not afford to delay any longer as “at present it is in danger of being left behind both in terms of resources and focus”.

The lobby group added that the review should reflect the findings of a recent National Audit Office report, which concluded the RHI had not delivered value for money for UK taxpayers.

Kevin Stickney, MD of Erda Energy, a leading geo-exchange (ground-source heat) provider and advocate for an electrified, smart, decarbonised UK heat sector told Decentralized Energy: “There are big challenges in decarbonising heat, but we can’t let them paralyse us. We need to start making decisions on the big questions now – such as hydrogen versus electrification – or we’ll find it’s too late.

“Start reducing final energy demand on heating now, and at the same time make the decisions and do the planning to decarbonise our heating as soon as possible. Electrification is the best option, as it allows for immediate carbon reductions starting today, and taps into the decarbonisation success we’ve had with the grid.”