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Minister consults on zero-carbon heating

A ‘Call for Evidence’ launched by Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks (pictured) is seeking feedback on the best ways to de-carbonise home and business heating systems.


The call is part of efforts to slash the UK’s emissions and to contribute to the European Union’s (EU) target of obtaining 20 per cent of all energy from renewables by 2020.


Neil Schofield, head of sustainable development at the Worcester Bosch Group, welcomed the consultation, interpreting it as a clear sign the Government was finally taking notice of the industry.


 “Until now the Government has never taken heat very seriously and it has been the Cinderella issue as far as energy policy has been concerned,” he said.


“This is a very detailed report and it is important the industry rallies round and highlights that it is welcomed. The Government is now beginning to understand that the role of heat within buildings is actually far more important than the role of electricity.”


Mr Schofield said the Government needed to balance improving the efficiency of existing equipment while promoting effective technology. “The feeling in the industry is that boilers are a ticked box within Government, but there are an awful lot of very old and inefficient boilers out there chugging away at 60 per cent efficiency – we estimate around four million.


“Anything that encourages their replacement is good for householders, good for Government in meeting its emissions targets and good for promoting business within the industry. “The big recognition is that it is existing homes which have to be the main target area.


But, Mr Schofield warned: “We do not need another consultation document which doesn’t go any further.”


The Call for Evidence covers a range of issues including how existing technologies for producing low carbon heat - such as combined heat and power (CHP), renewable heat, heat from waste, and district heat - could be developed further. It also explores whether new incentives are needed to stimulate the development of renewable heat. In addition, it examines how surplus heat might be captured and considers what role there is for low-carbon electricity. Lastly, the consultation considers which options could provide the most cost-effective solutions.


Mr Wicks said: “The responses to this call will put us in a strong position to develop policy to take to consultation this summer and set out firm plans to reach the UK’s share of the EU 2020 target.” 


The Combined Heat and Power Association (CHPA) welcomed the consultation but Peter Smith, research and communication manager, said combined heat and power businesses were keen to highlight their success in raising efficiency, but needed confident signals that Government support will continue beyond 2013.


“We would like to see the Government bring forward steps which would promote CHP more than it has to date. The Government needs to make clear the incentives which are available now will be around for a long time so a developer knows they can complete a CHP project on the back of them.


'Currently, the Government appears to be supporting more expensive options which are unlikely to deliver the emissions reductions a CHP project could achieve, in the short term.