Net Zero 2050: "A little less conversation, a little more action please"

Heat network specialist Switch2 Energy urges the government to take urgent action on heat decarbonisation to deliver on targeted net zero emissions by 2050.

The government must introduce radical heat decarbonisation policies if it is to deliver on its intention to legislate for net zero emissions by 2050, says Switch2 Energy.


"Although the UK has made impressive strides in reducing emissions from power, progress on heat decarbonisation has been poor because it's a much more difficult challenge", says Richard Slee, CEO of Switch2.

Heat accounts for more than a third of UK greenhouse gas emissions. If the government is to stand any chance of hitting the ambitious net zero target, it will need to heed the wise words of Elvis and engage in 'less conversation' and take 'more action' on heat policy.

The Committee on Climate Change has recently stressed the urgent need to tackle heat emissions from the domestic sector. It has recommended banning gas boilers in new homes from 2025, along with a wide range of other measures, such as accelerating deployment of heat networks for high density housing areas and a shift to renewable heat sources, such as hydrogen and heat pumps.

"The UK is already falling behind on its existing 2025 and 2030 emissions reduction targets, so doing more of the same is no longer enough", added Richard Slee. "Immediate, revolutionary action is required and that must include replacing CO2 emitting boilers with lower carbon alternatives and using high efficiency heat networks, wherever feasible. It is crucial that this summer's energy white paper provides a clear route map to rapid heat decarbonisation and that the government walks the talk on energy sustainability.

"The government has already committed £320 million investment in heat networks, but these are complex and expensive infrastructure projects. Even more support will be required if we are to generate an anticipated 14-20% of UK heat demand from heat networks over the next decade, as opposed to the current 2% level.

"In addition to developing new 4th and 5th generation heat networks, there are cost effective and simple opportunities to improve the emissions performance of existing schemes. This scheme optimisation can be implemented speedily and would involve ensuring proper insulation and using smart control and heat metering systems to drive energy efficiency. In addition, it's relatively easy to upgrade plant to transition to cleaner new technologies, such as large scale heat pumps."

Switch2 Energy supplies 70,000 residents and 180 clients across 500 heat networks. Its end-to-end service includes equipment design, manufacture and supply, metering, billing and pay-as-you-go, through to maintenance, energy centre management and customer services.

in 2018 Switch2 launched a new full-service heat network ESCo service to design, build, finance, operate and maintain district and community heating schemes.


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