The government has invited views on the use of heat in non-domestic buildings. Its goal is to establish policies that will lead to lower energy consumption and thereby reduce emissions, improve energy security, and keep energy bills as low as possible. To develop and test these policies, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) requires more evidence from stakeholders so that they are fully aware of the different factors that impact heat use across all types of buildings and sectors.
BEIS would like to know what drives the decisions for heat sources and how building characteristics and location impact the choice of technologies used. Other questions surround actions that the government can take to reduce the use of coal and oil in buildings, as well as what innovative solutions exist that can reduce emissions from heat.
An increasing number of green gas innovations are now being implemented across the UK. For example, Ecotricity unveiled plans last week for Britain’s first green gas mill , which will convert grass into biomethane to heat than 4,000 homes. The plant, which is due to come online by 2018, will turn grass into biomethane within just 45 days, to be injected into the national gas network. Ecotricity believes this technology could be a viable alternative to obtaining gas from fracking and has asked the government to reconsider its strategy for where to obtain its gas post-North Sea.
Non-domestic buildings account for 17% of the UK’s total energy consumption and 12% of greenhouse gas emissions. To date, the power sector has delivered the greatest emission reductions, and ample scope remains for greater decarbonisation of buildings. BEIS’s approach is two pronged; to enable a transition away from fossil fuels used for heat and to improve energy efficiency in buildings.
Throughout its call for evidence, BEIS reiterated its commitment to the UK’s fourth and fifth carbon budgets. These legally binding emissions reduction targets are set in UK legislation, independently of any international commitments. The UK is currently on track to outperform the second and third carbon budgets but is not yet on track to meet the fourth budget of a 50% reduction by 2025 (compared to 1990). Action on heat will be an important tool to assist in reaching the targets set in the Climate Change Act.