Director of Clean Heat at BEIS shares focus of upcoming UK Heat and Buildings Strategy

12/05/2021 16:48
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Speaking at today's Utility Week Future of Heat Conference, David Capper, Director of Clean Heat at the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) spoke about the upcoming UK Heat and Buildings Strategy due to be published imminently.

David confirmed that the Strategy will build upon the UK Government's Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution and the Energy White Paper, both published towards the end of 2020, and demonstrate the UK's climate leadership in the run up to the UN Climate Summit, COP26 in November 2021.

The Heat and Buildings Strategy will set out the UK's plan to decarbonise how we heat buildings throughout the 2020's, whilst keeping us on track to deliver net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The Strategy will focus on specific areas including:

  • Making homes energy efficient – getting to EPC C by 2035, where cost-effective, practical and affordable
  • Growing the UK heat pump market – by 20 fold to support 600,000 installations per year by 2028
  • Expanding use of low carbon heat networks – especially where there is waste heat and density of demand
  • Undertaking a large R&D programme to test the safety and feasibility of hydrogen for heating – including trials and pilots
  • Enabling strategic decisions on the future of UK heating by the middle of the decade

In terms of trialling the feasibility of hydrogen heating, David highlighted the work of the Hy4Heat research programme unveiling the first hydrogen-ready boiler prototypes, and the ongoing testing at the HyStreet site at RAF Spadeadam. The UK Government is funding two demonstration buildings in Gateshead to showcase the use of hydrogen-fuelled appliances in a realistic domestic setting – Project HyHouse due to open in Summer 2021. Its Ten Point Plan sets out an ambitious vision to test potential Hydrogen Neighbourhoods by 2023, a Hydrogen Village by 2025 and a possible Hydrogen Town by the end of the decade.

David confirmed that BEIS will continue to work with industry to evaluate the potential for hydrogen to heat buildings, informing strategic decisions over its long term role around the mid-2020’s and making a decision on implementation towards the end of the decade. These decisions will involve determining the future mix of low carbon heat in the UK and the roles of hydrogen and heat pumps in decarbonising heating on the gas grid. “Desk-based studies alone cannot answer this question. In the next five years the Government will invest in the technologies and develop the markets on the basis that either electrification or hydrogen will be the dominant solution.”

David was clear that keeping options open was not a barrier to making significant advances in the next five years – such as substantially growing the heat pump market and undertaking large-scale trials for hydrogen. He also highlighted the value in looking at the market mechanisms applied to decarbonising transport e.g. banning new diesel vehicles, and whether similar principles can be applied to heating systems – as a way of growing the market for low carbon heating.

The vital role for other supporting mechanisms were acknowledged, such as skills, standards, green finance and product innovation – stressing that all of these areas need focus to ensure the UK has a well-functioning supply chain and cost efficiencies.

David was not able to provide a publication date for the upcoming Heat and Buildings Strategy but he confirmed that it would be published in the near future. Later in the year, BEIS will also publish a Net Zero Strategy setting out the Government's vision for transitioning to a net-zero economy, leveraging new growth and employment opportunities across the UK and raising ambition on the path to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

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