This ground-breaking report develops three scenarios for the future of residential heating in the UK – analysing how each scenario performs in terms of:
- Impact on customers
- Impact on the energy system
- Government target to completely decarbonise residential heat by 2050
The report finds a balanced approach – with gas, heat networks and electric heating all playing major roles, could offer the lowest risk and lowest cost option to largely decarbonise heat. Other scenarios explored were a customer-choice led scenario, and one where heat networks and electric heating dominate.
The report is the most comprehensive domestic heat study ever undertaken in the UK. The analyses focuses on how the residential heating sector can be decarbonised, by putting the customer at the centre of each scenario. Delta-ee then breaks down the housing stock into 35 different segments to model the performance of different heating appliances decade by decade to reach conclusions on how heating technologies could be effectively deployed in the UK.
Jon Slowe, Director, Delta-ee and lead author of the Report said:
“The UK is about to embark on hugely challenging low carbon journey with lots of uncertainties. The biggest challenge we face is dealing with the 22 million homes that currently use gas boilers. Reductions in thermal demand and biomethane alone won’t be sufficient to reach DECC’s target to fully decarbonise residential heat by 2050. Our analysis shows that customers won’t voluntarily make the switch to lower carbon heating choices.
Full decarbonisation can be achieved by relying almost completely on electric heat pumps and zero carbon heat networks. However, this imposes significant costs on customers and brings retrofit challenges. It also requires heat networks to reach beyond the dense urban areas which will be difficult, and will have a huge impact on the electricity distribution network and peak electricity demand on the coldest days of the year.”
Jennifer Arran, Analyst, Delta-ee and co-author said:
“A more balanced approach can reduce carbon emissions by 90% from 2010-20 levels, while avoiding the challenges of moving an additional 12 million suburban homes off the gas network. While this does require 75 TWh of biomethane, it imposes less additional cost on customers, has a lower impact on the energy system and allows heat networks to focus on the denser urban areas.
“Heat networks and electric heating play massive roles in both of our low carbon scenarios. But keeping low carbon gas appliances in the toolkit to decarbonise heat could significantly reduce the scale of the challenge.”