#51 A Spotlight on Heat

According to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the heating of homes accounts for 13% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions – comparable to the emissions of all the diesel and petrol powered cars in the UK (Net Zero – Technical Report). In March 2019, the UK government announced plans to introduce a Future Homes Standard, mandating the end of fossil-fuel heating systems in all new homes from 2025. This is necessary as we move towards a net-zero carbon target by 2050, but is it enough and how will it be achieved in reality?

Earlier this month, a policy briefing produced by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) was published, and warned that “significant” changes to the UK’s domestic heat policy framework are needed if the UK is to meet its 2050 net-zero target. The Clean Heat Grant (replacing the Renewable Heat Incentive) will offer support for heat pumps and some biomass, but is currently set up to support only 12,500 homes per year, just a fraction of the anticipated installations needed.

Meanwhile, an article in the Guardian reported that under current plans it will take the UK 700 years to move to low carbon heating!

So, what are the low-carbon solutions available for heating homes now?

Next week SPECIFIC are holding a “Heat Week” focused around 3 main themes:

  • building design
  • low-carbon heating technologies
  • the future of heating

We will share our research work on heating and are asking for others to share their examples of low carbon building design, low carbon technologies and heat research. This coincides with the Wales Climate Week, which has a programme packed with content on decarbonising buildings and transport in Wales, leading the way for the rest of the UK.

Some of the key challenges to delivering low carbon heating solutions for the UK include the capacity of the supply chains to deliver these new solutions, as well as the availability of supply of technologies such as heat pumps. There is a need for training and upskilling of the current workforce, a need to train up more installers, and a need for increased manufacturing of low carbon solutions.

Costs are another factor – at the moment, gas is still the cheapest form of heating. However, updated regulations, such as the new Future Homes Standard (England) and revisions to Part L of the Buildings Regulations (for England and the devolved administrations in the UK), will help accelerate the move to low carbon heating solutions,

There are viable solutions available for low-carbon heating of homes right now. These include air-source or ground-source heat pumps; combined heat and power (CHP) systems; low carbon heat networks; combined solar-thermal with heat pumps; or electric boilers.

If you’re interested in learning more about low carbon heating, including some of the emerging solutions, such as inter-seasonal heat storage, tune in to our Heat Week!

Published by jorclarke

I am an Architect, currently working at SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre, Swansea University, and studying for a Doctorate in Sustainable Built Environment (D.SBE), which is focused on developing an Active Building Design Guide.

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