Government should keep "options open" in low-carbon transition for domestic heating

Published on Monday, 26 November 2012 11:44
Posted by Vicki Mitchem

The Energy Networks Association has published a report suggesting that gas could continue to be an essential source to heat consumer's homes into the future.

The report analyses how the various heating sources the UK currently has available could be effectively deployed into future years.

ENA Chief Executive, David Smith said:

"This is the most comprehensive domestic heat study ever undertaken. It builds on the Redpoint work ENA published two years ago. We believe it is a significant intervention into the debate around heat. It complements and considerably builds upon the Government's Heat Strategy published earlier this year. This Report also looks at potential costs to the consumer and points the way to various regulatory changes that will be needed." "All the scenarios looked at keeping to the Government's carbon reduction targets. The clear implication of the Report is that there is a lower cost way of meeting our carbon targets that keeps gas in the domestic heat mix. Critically the Report has been prepared in conjunction with work ENA are undertaking on behalf of the Smart Grids Forum that looks at the increasing electrification of heat. The only conclusion you can draw from the Report is that the Government need to keep their options open."

Jon Slowe Director of Delta-ee and lead author of the report said:

"The UK is about to embark on hugely challenging low carbon journey with lots of uncertainties. The biggest challenge we face is dealing with the 22 million homes that currently use gas boilers. Reductions in thermal demand and biomethane alone will not be sufficient to reach DECC's target to fully decarbonise residential heat by 2050. Our analysis shows that customers won't voluntarily make the switch to lower carbon heating choices." "Full decarbonisation can be achieved by relying almost completely on electric heat pumps and zero carbon heat networks. However, this imposes significant costs on customers and brings retrofit challenges. It also requires heat networks to reach beyond the dense urban areas which will be difficult, and will have a huge impact on the electricity distribution network and peak electricity demand on the coldest days of the year." Jennifer Arran Analyst and co-author said:

"A more balanced approach can reduce carbon emissions by 90% from 2010-20 levels, while avoiding the challenges of moving an additional 12 million suburban homes off the gas network. While this does require 75 TWh of biomethane, it imposes less additional cost on customers, has a lower impact on the energy system and allows heat networks to focus on the denser urban areas. Heat networks and electric heating play massive roles in both of our low carbon scenarios. But keeping low carbon gas appliances in the toolkit to decarbonise heat could significantly reduce the scale of the challenge." Greg Barker, DECC Minister responsible for the Government Heat Strategy said:

"I am struck by many of the common challenges identified by the ENA. We will need to continue to engage closely with the ENA and its members."

Source: ©Green Energy UK

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