Richard Slee, chief executive of Switch2, said: “Although the UK has made impressive strides in reducing emissions from power, progress on heat decarbonisation has been poor because it is a much more difficult challenge.”
Heat accounts for more than a third of UK greenhouse gas emissions. If the government is to stand any chance of hitting the ambitious net zero target, it will need to heed the wise words of Elvis and engage in less conversation and take more action on heat policy, says Switch2.
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has recently stressed the urgent need to tackle heat emissions from the domestic sector. It has recommended banning gas boilers in new homes from 2025, along with a wide range of other measures, such as accelerating deployment of heat networks for high density housing areas and a shift to renewable heat sources such as hydrogen and heat pumps.
Mr Slee added: “The UK is already falling behind on its existing 2025 and 2030 emissions reduction targets, so doing more of the same is no longer enough. Immediate, revolutionary action is required and that must include replacing CO2 emitting boilers with lower carbon alternatives and using high efficiency heat networks, wherever feasible. It is crucial that this summer’s energy white paper provides a clear route map to rapid heat decarbonisation and that the government walks the talk on energy sustainability.
“The government has already committed £320 million investment in heat networks, but these are complex and expensive infrastructure projects. Even more support will be required if we are to generate an anticipated 14-20 per cent of UK heat demand from heat networks over the next decade, as opposed to the current two per cent level.
“In addition to developing new fourth and fifth generation heat networks, there are cost effective and simple opportunities to improve the emissions performance of existing schemes. This scheme optimisation can be implemented speedily and would involve ensuring proper insulation and using smart control and heat metering systems to drive energy efficiency. In addition, it is relatively easy to upgrade plant to transition to cleaner new technologies, such as large scale heat pumps.”