Millions more households must switch to low carbon heat before 2030 if the UK is to go net zero by 2050.
That’s the verdict reached in a new analysis by Energy Systems Catapult for the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which says the clean transition will require lifestyle changes for the average UK household in terms of transport, diet and air travel but particularly with regards to how homes are heated.
It notes new consumer-friendly, energy efficient and electrified technologies are needed to replace natural gas, such as heat pumps, district heating and hydrogen boilers.
The report suggests smart control systems and local area energy planning are essential to ensure a joined-up approach and keep costs as low as possible.
It also highlights that all new car sales from 2035 will likely have to be electric or another zero emission technology such as hydrogen, as well as more bus use, train use, cycling and walking being required.
The organisations say large-scale renewables, nuclear or gas will need to provide the bulk of power, with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies in place to reduce emissions while households provide additional energy and flexibility to the grid
It also notes it will be necessary to reduce the aviation sector’s growth, shift dietary patterns to cut meat and dairy consumption by at least 20% and slash waste to avoid emissions arising from landfill – as the food and aviation sectors are highly unlikely to be completely clean by 2050, removing carbon from the atmosphere is expected to be required to go net-zero.
Energy Systems Catapult CEO Philip New said: “With the average gas boiler lasting 15 years, most households will have two opportunities to switch to low carbon between now and 2050. With a tighter target, more homes will have to opt for low carbon solutions sooner rather than later.
“The full decarbonisation of heat requires natural gas to be replaced by hydrogen, or else electric heat pumps and district heat networks.”