Decarbonising heat will fail without choice

Heat pumps alone cannot solve UK domestic heat decarbonisation and must be supported by a choice of heating solutions, including a hydrogen gas network, if the UK is to deliver on its net-zero target.

That is the conclusion of a report from the Energy and Utilities Alliance (EUA) in partnership with Leeds Beckett University and UK gas distribution networks Cadent, Northern Gas Networks, SGN and Wales & West Utilities. Decarbonising Heat in Buildings: putting consumers first considers both housing stock new and old, including the challenges of retro-fitting low carbon heating technologies into dwellings vastly differing in size, age and construction.

The report also highlights that although energy efficiency will be crucial to net-zero targets, some measures supporting heat pump rollout will be intrusive to install, and less acceptable to energy customers. The EUA report findings also show that for existing UK housing stock, levels of disruption and association costs as well as lack of available space mean heat pumps will be an optimal solution for a minority of properties.

The independent analysis finds that for 8 to 13 million homes – 37 per cent to 54 per cent of the 22.7 million homes using gas – lack of exterior space and thermal properties of building fabric mean a heat pump is not capable of meeting the space requirement of the property or can only do so through disruptive measures such as solid wall insulation.

As a conclusion, the report recommends their use must be supported by a decarbonised gas network carrying a gas such as hydrogen, zero carbon at the point of use.

Mike Foster, chairman of the EUA, said: “Levels of disruption to people in their homes and associated costs mean heat pumps will be a solution for a minority of properties only, so hydrogen, biogas and hybrid systems need to play a significant role in the decarbonisation of heat in order to support our 2050 net zero ambition.”

Report here.

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