The largest challenge to achieve net-zero by 2050: Decarbonising heat

By District Energy posted 12-07-2020 14:07


Open Access Government


Professor Martin Freer, Director of Birmingham Energy Institute, University of Birmingham, details his thoughts on overcoming our largest challenge to achieve net-zero by 2050. 

Heat is the largest single source of UK carbon emissions, accounting for over one-third of the country’s output, whilst decarbonising heat stands as one of the most significant challenges in reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.

To overcome this challenge, the UK Government is developing a Heat and Building Strategy and introducing new standards such as the requirement for new-build homes to be future-proofed with low carbon heating, but this focus cannot just be on newly-built properties. A policy report from the University of Birmingham and the CBI suggests that 25 million homes must be converted to low-carbon heating if we are to achieve the UK’s net-zero targets.

Decarbonisation of heat in 25 million UK homes presents a further challenge as heat is generated home-by-home. The diversity of housing types, standards of thermal insulation and grid connectivity means that there is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It will be vital for business, government, regulators and communities to work together to shape the policies and delivery mechanisms that will be needed.

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