Published immediately prior to the UK’s Net Zero Strategy, the Heat and Buildings Strategy sets out the government’s plan to significantly cut carbon emissions from the UK’s 30 million homes and workplaces in ‘a simple, low-cost and green way’.
The Heat and Buildings Strategy, published on 19 October, builds on the commitments made in the 2018 Clean Growth: Transforming Heating review, the Energy White Paper and 10 Point Plan. It aims to set out the strategic decisions that need to be taken in the coming decades in order to reach net zero by 2050. Like the transition to electric vehicles, decarbonising residential, commercial, industrial and public sector buildings will be a gradual transition, which will start by incentivising consumers and driving down costs. Gradual as it may be, it is no mean feat: heating these buildings contributes to almost a quarter of all UK emissions.
The majority of buildings still rely on burning high-carbon fossil fuels for heating, hot water and cooking and have low thermal efficiency, which means that much of the heat generated is wasted. Achieving net zero means improving buildings’ fabric efficiency, changing the way we heat and cool our buildings, and improving the performance of energy-related products. It will involve large-scale transformation and wide-ranging change to energy systems and markets, including the development of UK-based, green industrial capability and capacity. It may be ‘green’, but is it really ‘simple’ and ‘low-cost’? Most certainly it will require a combination of cutting-edge technologies and innovative consumer options.
The Heat and Buildings Strategy suggests we can achieve the decarbonisation of buildings through:
The Strategy suggests that decarbonising buildings will provide a major economic stimulus, creating new highly skilled jobs (240,000 by 2035), products, markets, and supply chains in the UK, fit for a net zero future. The benefits of more efficient, low-carbon buildings for consumers are clear: smarter, better performing buildings, reduced energy bills and healthier more comfortable environments. Furthermore, as the global market for low carbon heat, smart products, and energy efficiency grows, the government suggests that UK businesses can make use of export opportunities in sectors where we have developed a particular knowledge, experience and expertise.
In order to address the carbon emissions produced in heating and powering our homes, workplaces and public buildings, the strategy details the government’s commitment to:
By 2050, buildings should make use of a combination of technologies, to minimise their carbon emissions and maximise their energy performance, thereby achieving the best environmental impact rating possible for that building. Measures include:
In 2019 the UK became the first major economy to pass laws to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. But does the recent Net Zero Strategy and sub strategies go far enough?
For example, although the UK’s new Net Zero Strategy promises to roll out 600,000 heat pumps every year by 2028, the UK government’s own advisors, the Climate Change Committee, said that it needs to jump to a million a year by 2030. What’s more, there is only funding for grants for 90,000 heat pumps over three years. Bear in mind that 1.2 million new gas boilers were installed last year alone. A rather familiar question to any new government policy springs to mind, does it go far enough?
While critics have argued that the Heat and Buildings Strategy is lacking in ideas and a comprehensive strategy to reach net zero, Alfa Energy is not. During COP26, we will be sharing guides and discussions on everything from establishing a net zero strategy, to measuring your carbon footprint and the rise of corporate PPAs. With heaps of real life implementations, make sure you stay tuned to our social media channels if you are looking seriously at what action you need to take now.