Almost half of the final energy consumed in the UK (49%) is in the form of heat, the generation of which accounts for around 47% of UK CO2 emissions. At present the amount of renewable heat in the UK is low at (0.6%) of heat demand.
Several renewable heat technologies already exist and are being deployed at varying rates and scales. Key technologies include:
In May 2007, the Energy White Paper restated Government’s commitment to decarbonising heat with an undertaking to ‘..conduct further work into the policy options available to reduce the carbon impact of heat and its use in order to determine a strategy for heat.’ The Government believes that it is essential to consider the heat sector holistically and is examining policy options and support measures that could further reduce the carbon impact of heat. This work focuses on all sectors from domestic to large-scale industrial and considers options to further encourage the uptake of renewable technologies.
The following provides a brief overview of the key developments and published documents during 2007.
The UK Biomass Strategy 2007 was developed jointly by BERR (formerly DTI) and DEFRA with the aim of achieving optimal carbon savings from biomass, while complying with EU policies and the Biomass Action Plan. It is also intended that the strategy should support existing renewable energy and climate change targets, and should facilitate the development of a competitive and sustainable market and supply chain for biomass. The Biomass Strategy was published alongside the Energy White Paper in May 2007.
To advise the development of the strategy, work was undertaken by BERR to investigate the relative cost effectiveness of different options for utilising biomass as a nominally carbon neutral energy source. The work, presented in Working Paper 1 of the UK Biomass Strategy, gives broad estimates for the level of financial support needed to make these options commercially attractive, what this support equates to as a CO2 abatement cost (£/tCO2), and the level of carbon abatement that can be achieved.
In response to calls for the establishment of a renewable heat obligation during the passage of the Energy Act, the Government gave a commitment to undertake analysis about the scope and case for promoting heat from renewable sources.
More recently, and building on this report, Ernst & Young were jointly commissioned by BERR (formerly DTI) and Defra to produce a report which considered the business case for the development of renewable heat. The terms of reference in producing this report were to assemble, examine and develop the evidence base; consider the market potential/barriers and cost-effectiveness of existing technologies (financial and in terms of carbon abatement potential); to use financial and economic modelling to enable future BERR/Defra work on the topic. The report can be found below:
BERR/Defra have also commissioned Ernst & Young to produce a study on potential mechanisms to support the development of renewable heat. The views expressed in this study are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Government. This study contributes to open debate on the topic and can be viewed below:
The Prime Minister’s speech on climate change on 19 November 2007 announced a Call for Evidence on renewable heat to be issued in January 2008 and followed by further consultation later in the year.