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Energy UK: heating rethink needed as greenhouse gas emissions increase

Trade body issues new report calling for urgent government action on transforming heating policy to support the development and adoption of low carbon technologies

Trade body Energy UK has called for the government to step up efforts to tackle greenhouse gas emissions resulting from heating, which it argues are climbing annually in contrast to declines seen in other sectors such as power generation.

A new report from the group entitled ‘kick-starting the decarbonisation of heat’ outlines a number of suggestions including implementing large scale trials of a range of alternative heat technologies.  It is argued these trails would allow industry to build up supply chains and knowledge on the most effective uses of a variety of technologies that could make up future lower carbon heat strategies.

The findings cite conclusions from an October 2016 report, which was issued by the influential independent Committee on Climate Change warning that intentions for the UK government to meet its emissions reduction plans by 2050 may be impossible without nearly eliminating heating emissions from homes and businesses.

Energy UK added, “In its 2017 Clean Growth Strategy, the government said doing so is its most difficult policy challenge among its decarbonisation efforts.” 

The government’s intended strategy for transforming the UK into a low carbon economy over the next three decades was published alongside the recently introduced Boiler Plus strategy.  Boiler Plus was launched on April 6 and sets out revised efficiency and performance controls that are now required in all new boilers fitted across England.

Longer-term incentives

Energy UK is also urging the government to ensure longer-term plans were in place by the end of the year for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) or other similar programmes that may be introduced to support low carbon heating.  The organisation hopes to see incentive programmes that back a wider number of technologies. 

The Energy UK report argued that future iterations of RHI, or any successor initiatives, should include a greater role for private investment, while supporting property developers and housing associations with taking up alternative heating solutions.

RHI funding has been guaranteed up to 2021, with organisations such as the Sustainable Energy Association warning earlier this year of the importance for an extension or successor initiative said funding can continue to support decarbonisation of heating systems.

Government is also being called on to reintroduce zero carbon housing policies that Energy UK has said could be introduced alongside expected amendments to building standards as part of an ongoing independent review launched following the Grenfell Tower fire last year.

The report’s other major recommendation is to back the introduction of low carbon heating in a range of properties such as homes off of the gas-grid.  It is estimated that off-grid homes account for between 15 per cent and 20 per cent of properties in the country.

Falling behind

Lawrence Slade, the current chief executive of Energy UK, has argued that drastic cuts to the UK’s reliance on more carbon intensive heating could not be delayed.  Mr Slade said that the heating industry was already falling behind efforts currently seen in the energy sector to cut carbon emissions.

He added, “Industry is already taking leadership in helping to deliver this change, as is highlighted throughout the report, but government has a vital role to play in kick-starting this transformation, which is why we’re setting out areas where it should get the ball rolling.” 

“If, as the government’s Clean Growth Strategy sets out, the 2020s will see real change taking place in heating, then we need to prepare the ground now.”

Paul Clark, the head of policy with energy group Centrica and chair of Energy UK’s decarbonisation of heat working group, has argued that the report reflected a pressing need to understand the importance of customers in ensuring a successful energy policy.

 

Mr Clark said that one size fits all approaches to heating systems would struggle in the UK as a result of the diverse number of home types and environments.

Trade body Energy UK has called for the government to step up efforts to tackle greenhouse gas emissions resulting from heating, which it argues are climbing annually in contrast to declines seen in other sectors such as power generation.

A new report from the group entitled ‘kick-starting the decarbonisation of heat’ outlines a number of suggestions including implementing large scale trials of a range of alternative heat technologies.  It is argued these trails would allow industry to build up supply chains and knowledge on the most effective uses of a variety of technologies that could make up future lower carbon heat strategies.

The findings cite conclusions from an October 2016 report issued by the influential independent Committee on Climate Change that warned any intentions for the UK government to meet emissions reduction plans by 2050 may be impossible without nearly eliminating heating emissions from homes and businesses.

Energy UK added, “In its 2017 Clean Growth Strategy, the government said doing so is its most difficult policy challenge among its decarbonisation efforts.” 

The government’s intended strategy for transforming the UK into a low carbon economy over the next three decades was published alongside the recently introduced Boiler Plus strategy.  Boiler Plus was launched on April 6 and sets out revised efficiency and performance controls that are now required in all new boilers fitted across England.

Longer-term incentives

Energy UK is also urging the government to ensure longer-term plans were in place by the end of the year for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) or other similar programmes that may be introduced to support low carbon heating.  The organisation hopes to see incentive programmes that back a wider number of technologies. 

The Energy UK report argued that future iterations of RHI, or any successor initiatives, should include  a greater role for private investment, while supporting property developers and housing associations with looking at taking up alternative heating solutions.

The RHI fund has been guaranteed up to 2021, with organisations such as the Sustainable Energy Association warning earlier this year of the importance for an extension or successor initiative said funding can continue to support decarbonisation of heating systems.

Government is also being called on to reintroduce zero carbon housing policies that Energy UK has said could be introduced alongside expected amendments to building standards as part of an ongoing review launched following the Grenfell Tower fire last year.

The report’s other major recommendation is to back the introduction of low carbon heating in a range of properties such as homes off of the gas-grid.  It is estimated that off-grid homes account for between 15 per cent and 20 per cent of properties in the country.

Falling behind

Lawrence Slade, the current chief executive of Energy UK, has argued that drastic cuts in the UK’s reliance on carbon intensive heating could not be delayed.  Mr Slade said that the heating industry was falling behind efforts currently being seen in the energy sector to cut carbon emissions.

He added, “Industry is already taking leadership in helping to deliver this change, as is highlighted throughout the report, but government has a vital role to play in kick-starting this transformation, which is why we’re setting out areas where it should get the ball rolling.” 

“If, as the government’s Clean Growth Strategy sets out, the 2020s will see real change taking place in heating, then we need to prepare the ground now.”

Paul Clark, the head of policy with energy group Centrica and chair of Energy UK’s decarbonisation of heat working group, has argued that the report reflected a pressing need to understand the importance of customers in ensuring a successful energy policy.

Mr Clark said that one size fits all approaches to heating systems would struggle in the UK as a result of the diverse number of home types and environments.

 

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