The future of heating: A strategic framework for low carbon heat
Heat is the single biggest reason we use energy in our society. We use more energy for heating than for transport or the generation of electricity. This year the UK will spend around £33 billion on heat across our economy.
- We use heat to keep our homes and offices warm, and we use energy to cool them in hot weather. We also use heat to provide us with hot water, cook our food, and manufacture the goods such as steel, iron, cement and chemicals, upon which our economy depends.
- Today the vast majority of our heat is produced by burning fossil fuels (around 80% from gas alone), and as a result heat is responsible for around a third of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions
- This is unsustainable. The 2011 Carbon Plan set out that if the UK is to play its part in the global effort to combat climate change, we will need our buildings to be virtually zero carbon by 2050. Achieving this can help reduce our exposure to the kind of volatile fossil fuel prices which led to a 9.4% rise in average gas prices last year, driven overwhelmingly by the wholesale gas price on global markets.
- The transformation of heat-generation and heat-use will create new markets and new opportunities. The EU market for heat pumps alone was responsible for three-quarters of million units sold last year, and there is a chance for the UK to capture more of this market as we make the change to low carbon heat. This will be a national transformation, and also a local one, with different solutions for different localities and geographies as households, businesses and local authorities choose the approach that will work best for them.
The publication of the strategy sets out how we supply and use heat today and describes how the heat system will need to evolve over time, identifying the substantial changes required across our economy and the role for government.
The document does not propose new policy proposals at this stage, it provides the strategic framework within which polices will be developed. We invited stakeholders to give us their views. We received nearly 170 responses and we have summarised these in the document below.
Our intention is to use the evidence and comments provided to inform the development of policy proposals. Our aim is to produce these proposals by March 2013.