Decarbonising heat in buildings must be policy priority

Government needs to make the decarbonisation of heat in buildings a policy priority for the coming decade, an influential report has warned.

The report from cross-party think tank Carbon Connect, Pathways for heat: Low carbon heat for buildings, looks at current understanding of the challenges of decarbonising heat for buildings by comparing six pathways for the sector to 2050 from:

  • Department of Energy and Climate Change
  • Committee on Climate Change
  • Energy Technologies Institute
  • National Grid
  • UK Energy Research Centre
  • Delta Energy and Environment.

The report finds that by 2050:

  • Gas used to heat buildings could fall by 75-95%
  • Electricity could increase from a 10% share today to 30-80%
  • District heat could increase from less than 2% to up to a 40% share.

At the same time, energy efficiency could help to lower bills and offset expected growth in our heating needs from an expanding population and building stock.

Across most pathways examined in the report, mass deployment of low carbon heat solutions ramps up in the lead-in to 2030. The overarching recommendation is that the next decade should be spent preparing by developing a robust strategy for decarbonising heat in buildings while testing and scaling up delivery models.

The report’s inquiry was chaired by shadow energy minister, Jonathan Reynolds and Conservative member of the energy and climate change select committee, Dan Byles. The report was sponsored by Energy & Utilities Alliance and the Institution of Gas Engineers and Managers, and is the first in a cross-party and independent inquiry series.

Dan Byles said of the findings: “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.”

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