The task of cutting carbon emissions from the nation’s electricity system has been a difficult one, but the challenge of weaning UK homes from their addiction to gas heating, which makes up almost 15pc of emissions, could prove to be even tougher. The innovation exists. Already district heating schemes are emerging, powered by renewable power and biogas. Schemes using hydrogen to dilute the carbon-rich methane that runs through the grid are also gaining traction. But, unlike low-carbon electricity, heating is far more personal and will require far deeper customer engagement. Matt Lipson, of the Energy Systems Catapult (ESC), says the rate at which heat pumps are being installed across the UK is 20,000 a year. It would need to grow to 20,000 a week to meet the challenge of “decarbonising” heating. Ultimately, the solution is likely to be a mix of technologies rather than heat pumps alone. But it won’t happen unless energy suppliers are able to “sell” the benefits to the consumer. The Government’s recent clean growth strategy it fired the starting gun for a warm home revolution. The strategy paper calls for all poorly insulated “fuel poor” homes to be upgraded to Energy Performance Certificate band C by 2030 and for as many homes as possible to be EPC band C by 2035. Ministers have also earmarked £10m to support innovations that provide low-carbon heat in domestic and commercial buildings, another £10m for innovations that improve the energy efficiency of existing buildings, and an extra £14m for the Energy Entrepreneurs Fund. The funding could trigger a boom for those already developing low-carbon heat via hydrogen projects, district heating schemes and green gas. Environmentally minded individuals are beginning to flock to suppliers such as Green Energy which sells biogas, or biomethane, which is created by decomposing organic waste in a tank with no oxygen. Switching the gas grid to run on hydrogen rather than carbon-rich methane could slash emissions from heating with minimal investment needed to upgrade the country’s existing pipeline network. It is a process already under way at a scheme in Leeds. Similar plans are afoot to create a “hydrogen cluster” in Manchester and Liverpool. There are also those going off-grid entirely to connect to district heating systems which can produce both power and heat. Many involve using combined heat and power (CHP) plants which generate power in the same way as traditional gas power plants but also capture and supply heat, making them more efficient and less carbon-intensive. Some run on renewable fuels such as biomass or biogas which makes them even cleaner still.
Telegraph 28th Jan 2018 read more »