Decarbonisation of heat

Our Decarbonisation of heat work focused on what solutions are available and how they could be integrated to decarbonise UK heat.

Heating is one of the most difficult sectors to decarbonise in the UK’s energy system. Technical options have been identified, including electric heating, hydrogen (CCS or electrolytic), biomass and solar thermal, and demand reduction. However, much of the current thinking views the options as being in competition with each other. Less thought has been given to a whole energy systems approach.

Reviewing existing proposals for how heat can be decarbonised

We undertook a multi-disciplinary systematic review, in partnership with stakeholders, of scenarios on Heat Decarbonisation. The aim was to provide peer-reviews of existing work, a common format for strategies and criteria for their evaluation, scenarios for future heat loads and sources. And engineering analyses of them in the UKTM model.

Analysing and further developing two existing whole energy system models

Improved representation of space and time in energy systems models is to reveal a richer landscape of options than current whole system optimisation modelling. We reviewed whole system energy models to identify factors relating to heat sub-systems that are not dealt with adequately. We developed metrics for system flexibility and equity and fuel poverty, and strategies for integrating energy system architectures. We provided improved understanding of strengths and weaknesses of the main energy system models, proposals for extending them and tools to support development of economically efficient strategies for decarbonisation of heat.

Evaluating potential social, regulatory and governance implications of findings

We provided input on potential social, regulatory and policy implications of the main socio-technical options for decarbonised heat. We reviewed the metrics and social implications of different proposals from previous work and evaluate the implications for market structures and policy.

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