Dr Richard Lowes, from the University of Exeter’s Energy Policy Group. There is apparently no climate emergency when it comes to heating. There is little to no policy action at all to change the situation. Following the closure of the non-domestic RHI, minimal policy support exists for the non-domestic sector. For households, the botched and now scrapped Green Homes Grant has created an air of cynicism, with companies which had invested time and effort on the scheme left with nothing to show for it. Current proposals for a new Clean Heat Grant, expected to be introduced following the closure of the domestic RHI, will actively create a policy chasm with the consultation document suggesting that the number of low carbon heating systems supported under the scheme well below what is actually needed. And, on energy efficiency, a vital piece of the puzzle for heat decarbonisation, the Green Deal, which flopped over five years ago, has still not been replaced. Current energy prices, which are set at levels resulting from the loading of policy costs onto electricity and the lack of a carbon price on gas (there is one on electricity), means that the energy market is structurally imbalanced towards gas heating. We continue to go in the wrong direction. While the prime minister’s target of 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028 is encouraging, without a thorough and co-ordinated policy package (such as the one I and others have proposed) it is simply empty words. If the climate emergency had translated into the need for action on heating, we would have a plan for delivery. The expected Heat and Buildings Strategy might partly provide this, but heat does not seem to be a policy priority. This is particularly concerning when history suggests that converting national heating systems tends to take many decades. The ongoing debate over whether to go for electrification or hydrogen also appears to be delaying action. Hydrogen may play an important role in some sectors of the economy but its mass use for heating has demonstrable issues for the energy system (ie problems around cost, resource use and imports) compared to the widespread roll out of heat pumps which offer significant strategic benefits. But, even if this were not the case and hydrogen was obviously and strategically a good idea, it still needs to be tested at scale in the existing gas network. No trials are underway, meaning that the likelihood that anywhere could be converted to 100 per cent hydrogen within ten, or perhaps even 15, years is very slim. The one, early stage, in situ trial to test 100 per cent hydrogen is using new pipes. Concerns have been raised that we don’t yet know enough to decide between electrification or hydrogen. But this is a dangerous position when time is already tight. This is an emergency, and we need to act now. Only known, deployable technologies, ie energy efficiency measures, heat pumps and heat networks, are ready to go and can reduce emissions immediately. Alongside this drive, we can of course further investigate what hydrogen may be able to do and when we know more, re-evaluate the optimum pathway.
Green Alliance Blog 12th May 2021 read more »
Aberdeen social housing to benefit from £5.2 million green retrofit scheme. Around 100 social housing properties in the north-east of Scotland are set to be upgraded with energy-saving measures and green innovations as part of a pioneering £5.2 million project. The landmark initiative will see a programme of fabric improvements and renewable energy technologies put in. This will include installation of solar panels, batteries and heat pumps to remove the consumption of carbon-intensive fuels, alongside a behind-the-meter battery storage system to create a decarbonised neighbourhood. There will be no cost to tenants or landlords for the work, which has backing of £2.2 million from Westminster’s newly launched Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund Demonstrator. s part of the project’s ‘fabric-first, whole-home’ approach, IRT Surveys will use cutting-edge thermal imaging technology to pinpoint the areas where improvements are required to reduce space heating demand. Implementing these fabric upgrades, in tandem with the installation of renewable energy assets, the project will showcase a route to achieving net-zero emissions through a financed and scalable business model.
Scotsman 13th May 2021 read more »