UK ‘failing on low carbon heat’

Heat for buildings must be decarbonised if the UK wants to meet its 2050 carbon target. A report by Carbon Connect proposes the government to “urgently” produce and implement a long term strategy […]

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By Jacqueline Echevarria

Heat for buildings must be decarbonised if the UK wants to meet its 2050 carbon target.

A report by Carbon Connect proposes the government to “urgently” produce and implement a long term strategy for decarbonising heat in the country.

It stated current policies will not deliver the emissions savings required to meet the carbon target as annual emissions are estimated to be around 45 million tonnes of carbon – 18% above the level of the budget.

The 2050 target commits to reducing emissions by at least 80% from 1990 levels. The UK aims to meet 12% of heat demand from renewable sources by 2020.

The ‘Pathways for Heat’ report said 4.9% of heat demand was met by renewables in 2014 and the government can meet its 2050 target if it includes a “robust and ambitious” policy framework to reduce carbon heat emissions.

It added 2.35 million households in fuel poverty in England – 10% of all homes – and new policies could help tackle this.

Owain Mortimer, Carbon Connect Manager said: “46% per cent of the final energy consumed in the UK is used to provide heat, of which 80% is heat for buildings. Having worked on Pathways for Heat it became apparent that for buildings to achieve low carbon status, the heat being provided needed to come from renewable or low carbon sources.

“There are real business opportunities for renewable and low carbon heating technologies to grow but the government needs to provide the long-term, policy certainty necessary for the industry to flourish. For instance, district heat networks currently only have a 2% market penetration. What we found, after both qualitative and quantitative research activities outlined in the report, is that long-term plans need to be put in place to tackle heat.”