Let’s address the decarbonisation of heat

Today is Earth Day 2021, and the theme for this year is Restore Our Earth which focuses on natural processes, emerging green technologies, and innovative thinking that can restore the world’s ecosystems.

Now more than ever we should be focussing on issues surrounding the decarbonisation of heat.

As the UK pursues its target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, focus from the government on the task of retrofitting the country’s housing to create more energy efficiency is vital. That said, the scale and nature of the challenge means that much more is required.

Heating our homes and workplaces accounts for approximately 20% of the UK’s carbon emissions; most of the UK’s heat is supplied by burning natural gas. This makes the decarbonisation of heat one of the toughest challenges involved in achieving net-zero.

There are three key routes to decarbonising heat: replacement of gas as a heat source with green electricity (from renewables); the widespread use of hydrogen for heating homes; and a hybrid pathway that uses a mixture of both electricity and gas.

Since the electrification and hybrid pathways will also require millions of homes nationwide to be fitted with heat pumps, this has been a core government focus. While the installation of heat pumps and hybrid heat pumps is a positive solution, we at APHC maintain it does not solve the problem.

In fact, according to recent research by the Energy and Utilities Alliance (EUA), without a choice of different heat technologies for UK housing stock, decarbonisation of heat will fail.

The report states: “While heat pumps will play a vital role in the UK’s net zero transition – for between 7 and 10 million homes there are no limiting factors to installation – the EUA report findings show that for existing UK housing stock, levels of disruption and associated costs as well as lack of available space mean heat pumps will be an optimal solution for a minority of properties.”

Ultimately, different heating technology solutions are going to be applicable to different property types depending on the age, and profile of the building, and the capacity of energy networks.

At APHC, we want to support government and industry in understanding how net-zero can happen.

Equally, we call on the government not only to be more ambitious on this specific issue, but to show leadership and urgency in bringing about a new co-ordinated approach to the successful decarbonisation of heat overall. In so doing Government needs to come forward with a range of low carbon installation options that can meet the needs of all property types and set the scene for the way ahead.

It’s now more important than ever to engage with new developments and keep abreast of industry changes in order for your business to thrive. So if your plumbing and heating business is interested in joining APHC then please get in touch on 0121 711 5030, or email membershipsales@aphc.co.uk for further information.