ICOM conference tackles decarbonisation challenge

The biennial ICOM Spring Conference was held in London this week where members were updated on some critical issues that will affect the commercial and industrial heating industry.


Karen Wood, senior policy advisor in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) address ICOM members

A range or speakers including Karen Wood, senior policy advisor in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS); Rufus Ford BEIS heat network specialist; CIBSE’s technical director Hywell Davies; head of technical services for IGEM Ian McCluskey; and John Henderson, senior advisor in the Environment Agency, delivered their insights into the challenges posed by decarbonisation targets.

ICOM director Ross Anderson opened proceedings saying while the commercial boiler industry was currently holding its own, decarbonisation had created a “battle for survival” with all fuel sources fighting for supremacy.

He set the scene for the one-day conference held at St Ermin’s Hotel, by saying: “Changes have to happen, if we want to achieve what is needed by 2050”.

First speaker, Karen Wood told guests that the government had already made some strides towards decarbonisation. She warned however: “We still need to do more, and this won’t be easy, because heat is a very difficult decarbonisation challenge.”

Ms Wood said while the country was still heavily reliant on gas as a fuel source, the government was looking at evidence available for different approaches. Its call for evidence would look at new technologies for low carbon heating and would determine the path to transition.

In an overview about heat network policy, Rufus Ford of BEIS said the government was in support of heat networks which allowed different sources to heat buildings.

“We believe heat networks open up options for us,” he informed ICOM members.

Discussing the future of the gas network, IGEM’s Ian McCluskey argued the network had a critical role to play in meeting decarbonisation targets as it had the potential to deliver new environmentally friendly forms of energy that would benefit the UK.

He reminded members that when severe weather hit the UK recently, the gas network held firm unlike others. This, he suggested was a stark reminder that in order to replace gas, other networks would have to be able to cope with the same demand.

“We need to keep the grid and invest in it otherwise we will be forced into an expensive decarbonisation route with a major impact on consumers. We must also recognise there is not just one single solution but different technologies in different situations.”

Other speakers on the day included CIBSE’s Hywell Davies who gave members an update on building regulations touching on two big influencers – The Climate Change Act and the Hackitt Review on building regulations and fire safety; and John Henderson of the Environment Agency who addressed members on the Medium Combustion Plant Directive.

13 April 2018


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