Ute Collier, International Energy Agency (IEA)
Policy support has helped raise the contribution of geothermal heat to district heating in Paris (Photo: Ute Collier)
As winter temperatures plummet in the Northern hemisphere, renewable heat is increasingly being used to provide heat for warmth and comfort. Yet it has a long way to go to catch up with fossil fuels, which currently provide more than three-quarters of heat production globally, resulting in significant CO2 emissions and in some cases adding to local air pollution.
Renewable heat options, including bioenergy, solar thermal and geothermal are significantly more sustainable options then fossil fuels, yet they encounter multiple economic and non-economic barriers. While many countries are focusing policies on renewable electricity, renewable heat is getting much less attention.
This represents a massive opportunity for emissions reductions, as heat consumption accounts for over 50% of total final consumption. It is vitally important for not only space and water heating but also many industrial processes. Despite this significance, heat remains the sleeping giant of energy policy.