The UK energy transition is progressing quite well on the electricity side, despite on-shore wind being constrained, but less progress has been made on green heat. A new Energy Research Partnership report on decarbonising heat, ‘Transition to low-carbon heat’, looks at the technical, social, financial and governance aspects and highlights the key actions that need to be taken now and in the next few years. ERP says that ‘supplying natural gas or oil directly into homes will need to be replaced by a decarbonised gas or by electric heating or heat network. But it is not a simple choice: each option has challenges that could limit their deployment. A combination of options is likely to be required; no one option may not dominate, as natural gas currently does. Demand reduction will be an essential part of a cost-effective transition’. ERP goes on ‘the scale of the challenge should not be underestimated. The social aspects are as challenging as the technical. The capital investment means the cost of heating will rise during the transition. Timing is crucial. Preparations need to begin now, to inform the long investment cycles over the next 30 years’. So it says ‘several low-carbon heating options need to be pursued in parallel now. Early in 2020s, critical actions and decisions will need to be taken, by Government, to avoid closing-off options, undermining their potential, or increasing their costs’. For example, it says it will be urgent to determine ‘the extent to which hydrogen could be used to decarbonise the gas system’ and, ‘Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) will be essential’. Once again CCS is favoured, despite being a long shot. There is still some CCS work going on in the UK (a £20m project) and elsewhere, and that may make sense if for example you are a devotee of its use with biomass feedstocks as a carbon negative option, but otherwise, in terms of green energy development, there are arguably more urgent options to explore- P2G especially. The governments new Clean Growth Strategy (see my earlier post) does include, amongst other things, a £20m R&D/innovation funding for low carbon heat and energy efficiency, but that is dwarfed by the £480m proposed for nuclear R&D, on SMRs and the like. Maybe the priorities need debating further.
Environment Research Web 4th Nov 2017 read more »