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Heat Technology Innovations

Ashley Bateson

By Ashley Bateson, Partner & Head of  Sustainability at Hoare Lea

MSc CEng CEnv FCIBSE MIE

Nearly half of the energy consumption in the UK is used for heating, so it’s important to understand how we utilise the heat (in buildings and industry) and where it comes from. In domestic building sector space heating accounts for 60% of energy use and water heating accounts for 18% of domestic energy use. In the non-domestic sector the proportions are slightly less, at 49% and 6% respectively. (The ‘Future of Heating’ Report, published by DECC in 2013, is an excellent source of energy data and proposals for future heating scenarios).

Fossil fuels are still the primary source of heating, with 70% of all heat coming from the combustion of natural gas. Our transition to a low carbon economy will require improvements in energy efficiency and the replacement of fossil fuels with renewable energy sources. Whilst the Government has dropped its short term commitment to zero carbon buildings its long term 2050 carbon reduction target remains, i.e. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80%, relative to 1990 levels. So we still have a national imperative to find alternatives to our dependency on carbon rich energy sources.

Meanwhile, the EU has set an overall target of 15% of UK energy consumption to come from renewable sources, with the UK setting a sub-target of 12% of heat from renewables by 2020.

Recently, Amber Rudd, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, announced the Government's energy policy priorities for the next 10 years and beyond. (Gov., 2015) 

The announcement gives the first clear direction on UK energy policy since the previous Labour Government's Low Carbon Transition Plan of 2009.

The four primary concerns of the Government's new energy policy are:

  1. Consultation on ending unabated coal-fired power stations by 2025
  2. Investment in new gas-fired power stations
  3. Promotion of offshore wind power (without subsidies)
  4. Move towards a smarter energy system

The policy emphasis is on securing future power generation to meet anticipated demand, with a focus on nuclear, wind and gas (much of this will be imported). This will eventually lead to decarbonisation of the grid, although we are unlikely to see much change in the carbon content of the grid in the next 5-8 years or so.

This energy policy announcement was a missed opportunity to give a clear sign of a national strategy to improve energy efficiency and reduce dependency on fossil fuels for heating. It remains the responsibility therefore, for those working in the design, procurement and management of buildings and industry, to demonstrate improvements in efficiency and improved exploitation of renewable energy sources to meet our long term targets. Innovation in technology and techniques will surely have a key role to play in this transformation. Fortunately, improvements in controls, boiler efficiencies, intelligent building strategies and energy management systems look set to be part of the range of methods we can adopt to achieve lower carbon heating systems. The CBx Heat Technology Innovations event on 11th March will help to showcase some of these developments.

Don’t miss your chance to hear from Ashley, along with other speakers at our March event.

  • John Thompson, CEO at Environmental Treatment Concepts Ltd
  • Gareth Jones, Director at Guru Systems Limited
  • Colin Ashford, Chair of CIBSE AM15: Biomass heating