Government plan to slash emissions from heating

Published on Thursday, 29 March 2012 15:56
Posted by Scott Buckler

The Government has set out its vision of how it can cut emissions from heating homes, businesses and industry in the decades ahead

The Heat Strategy sets out the long term challenges and opportunities on the pathway to decarbonisation and asks specific questions, including seeking views about future policy options, which the Government may need to consider.

The scale of the challenge is huge:

  •     Almost half of the energy consumed in the UK is used to generate heat for buildings and water, in cooking food and manufacturing goods or to keep offices and homes cool in hot weather

  •     The vast majority of the UK’s heat is produced by burning fossil fuels - currently around a third of the UK’s carbon emissions come from the energy used to produce heat, more than from generating electricity

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey said:

Cutting emissions from the way we generate heat is essential if we are to meet our climate change and renewables targets.

“Many towns, cities and communities across the UK are already switching from fossil fuels to low carbon forms of heating like biomass, heat pumps and solar thermal.

“I want to give the opportunity to others to follow the pioneers so that, in time, our buildings are no longer dependent on burning fossil fuels for heat but using affordable and reliable alternatives to help create a flourishing, competitive low carbon manufacturing industry.

“I welcome views on this plan to ensure government and industry can work together towards a sustainable, affordable and low carbon energy future.”

The strategy includes a range of different low carbon heat case studies, including one in Nottingham which is home to one of the largest district heating networks in the UK. The 65km network now serves more than 4,600 homes and over 100 businesses and public sector properties - roughly 3.5% of the city’s entire heat consumption.

The Heat Strategy builds on the Government’s Carbon Plan which was published last December. It looks at heat use across the different sectors in the economy, provides supporting evidence and real-life case studies and asks specific questions on future policy options.

Achieving this transition to low carbon heat will mean changes across the UK’s economy over the coming decades, with different solutions required in different areas.

As the Carbon Plan set out, the strategy is split into three different stages:

  •     This decade - Government’s focus for both buildings and industry will be on energy efficiency and preparing the market by driving early take up of renewable heat, building the supply chain and supporting innovation

  •     The 2020s and 2030s - Uptake of low carbon heat technologies will need to be widespread in homes and businesses. Government’s focus will be on creating the right frameworks to support the market and minimise costs to consumers and industry

  •     The long term - The Government will increasingly focus on helping consumers and businesses tackle more challenging areas of low carbon heat where more innovation may be needed. By 2050, heat for buildings will need to be entirely carbon-free, which means a range of renewable options like heat pumps in buildings as well as a bigger role for low carbon heat networks in cities.
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