A total of £32 billion a year is spent in the UK heating homes and other buildings, accounting for nearly half of all energy consumed and one third of total greenhouse gas emissions. However despite its significance, heat remains the “Cinderella” of energy and climate policy, having been largely overlooked in favour of the other main energy sectors: power and transport.
Hamish Wilson, CEO of Minus7 comments on the implications of the BEIS Strategy for heating:
Have you read the recent report from the Policy Exchange on the decarbonisation of heating called “Too Hot to Handle” released on the 8th September? The report tackles the policy failure to make significant progress in decarbonising heat, as noted by the Energy and Climate Change Committee. Both reports comment that the government’s strategy to electrify heat through heat pumps is flawed.
My fundamental issue with the report is that it is based on an analysis of the current suite of renewable technologies as they are today. It does not take into account trends in technical innovations, in particular, the impact of hybrid technologies.
The report talks about technology neutral support mechanisms and then contradicts itself by damning specific technologies,
We at Minus7 have a hybrid system in which we combine heat pumps with thermal stores and a solar thermal and PV collector (the roof of the building). The collector provides solar energy in the form of heat and electricity, which boosts the amount of energy available to the heat pump improving the heat pumps efficiency. On sunny days, the solar energy can heat the property directly with no need of the heat pump. Over a year the energy from PV generates a surplus over running the heat pump.
Technologies like these have the potential to transform heat and power provision to properties. However, these types of solutions are specifically excluded by the mechanisms proposed in the Policy Exchange report.
We would prefer to encourage renewable heating through four measures:
1) A rigorous application of zero carbon building regulations. This measure alone would stimulate builders to seek out technology and building efficiency solutions to enable their projects to get through building regulations.
2) Provide subsidies based on NET metered renewable energy delivered to the property, irrespective of technology. NET renewable energy removes the contribution from the grid to encourage on-site PV generation and local storage. Onsite renewable generation of heat and electricity need storage so as not to overload the grid – a particular challenge to heat pumps as noted by the Policy Exchange report.
3) Invest in stimulating innovation in local generation and storage rather than big infrastructure projects. We think the measures being put in place by Innovate UK will go a long way to addressing this issue.
Strong economic and planning incentives would encourage the market to come up with technology solutions. We absolutely agree with the sentiment that the drive for renewable heating has to be consumer led. There has to be an economic to drive for change. BEIS has to encourage new technologies with incentives to break into the market, and then systematically reduce those incentives to drive cost reductions that would naturally occur as the technologies get to scale. Clearly, if the costs do not reduce in line with the incentive reduction, then that particular technology would quite rightly fail.
The state needs to get better at creating the right environment in which winners emerge.Alex Chrisholm stated in July that there is a “clear and strong rationale from the prime minister for change….where Business will have a strong champion in goverment….ensuring efficient paths to carbon reduction” We strongly recommend a focus on stimulating the market in renewable heating to do so. Click to Tweet this message to BEIS