The scale and complexity involved in transitioning to low carbon heat means an almost immediate start is required.
That’s according to the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), which has published the outcomes from the first phase of its Smart Systems and Heat programme, detailing how the UK could decarbonise domestic heat to meet 2050 climate change targets.
The organisation notes domestic, industrial and commercial heat is the UK’s largest source of greenhouse gases in the country – it says for the UK to transition to a low carbon heating system, it must understand consumer needs and behaviours, successfully develop and integrate new technologies and implement suitable business models.
In order to supply heat without using natural gas, the report suggests a number of potential avenues, including electrifying heat in individual homes, setting up district heat networks for entire neighbourhoods and converting existing gas grids to hydrogen or biogas.
It also suggests improving the fabric efficiencies of homes can make a large difference, calculating that significant fabric retrofits are potentially required in around 10 million of the country’s existing 28 million households.
It emphasises advanced controls are critical as they enable lower peak electricity demands and boost the efficiency of existing infrastructure.
The report concludes highly efficient and low carbon-ready new builds are a ‘low regret’ option and advises that their construction should be progressed urgently.
Andrew Haslett, Chief Engineer at ETI, said: “The next decade will be critical in preparing for any low carbon heating transition, with rapid implementation required from 2025 to build supply chain capability and capacity.
“It is important that solutions that work at the scale of large towns and small cities are demonstrated if we are to roll them out across the UK in time.”
Technologies to help decarbonise heat will be among those on display at The Energy Solutions Show (TESS) on June 5th at Millennium Point, Birmingham.