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The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) has published the outcomes from Phase 1 of its Smart Systems and Heat programme, detailing how the UK could decarbonise domestic heat to meet its 2050 climate change targets.
The Journey to Smarter Heat, written by the ETI with support from the Energy Systems Catapult, tackles three interconnected areas: heating needs and controls within the home; heating infrastructure and building retrofit at a local level; and the operation and governance of the whole system.
The report highlights that for the UK to transition to a low carbon heating system it must understand consumer needs and behaviours, while connecting this with the development and integration of technologies and new business models.
Decarbonising heat means supplying homes with something other than natural gas. The report identifies the options available including, electrifying heat in individual homes, connecting neighbourhoods to new district heat networks, repurposing the natural gas grid to transport hydrogen or biogas, and improving the fabric efficiencies of homes.
The research also shows that, as part of a low carbon heating system upgrade, advanced controls are critical to performance, sizing and operating costs, enabling smaller appliances and lower peak electricity demands and maximising the efficiency of existing infrastructure. With significant fabric retrofits potentially required in around 10 million of the existing 28 million dwellings in the UK housing stock, the report recommends that building new homes to be both very efficient and “low carbon ready” is a low regret decision, which should be progressed with some urgency.
Andrew Haslett, Chief Engineer at ETI, comments: “As the UK’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, the supply of domestic, industrial and commercial heat must be decarbonised if the UK is to meet its climate change targets. We believe that the scale and complexity of the transition requires an almost immediate start.
“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.
“This real-world demonstration phase has already been progressed by the ESC who, building on the learnings from Phase 1, established a “living lab” of c100 homes. The ESC will release the outcomes of Phase 2 later this week, supporting the development of new business models, products, policy options and regulatory frameworks.”
All deliverables from the Phase 1 of the ETI’s Smart System and Heat programme are now available on the ETI’s Knowledge Zone, continuing its commitment to supporting the acceleration of heat decarbonisation, even after its closure later this year.