NEWS

UK energy strategies in uncertainty: uncertainties in energy demand in residential heating

Jul 20, 2014

Abstract

Direct use of fossil fuels is the main source of space heating in the UK and this drives a major part of national greenhouse gas emissions. Climate stabilisation therefore implies a systemic change in approaches to space heating, involving some combination of radical efficiency improvement and low carbon fuels. The challenge in this area for the UK is made particularly difficult because of the combination of the legal commitment to an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050, an old building stock and a very high penetration of natural gas as a heating fuel.

This paper presents new quantified scenarios for residential energy use in the UK to 2050. These address both factors that are exogenous to the energy system, such as population, but also some systemically different approaches to delivering residential heat.

With minimal policy intervention the UK will remain locked into a gas system, but there is a range of scenarios in which this is avoided. Heat pumps powered by low carbon electricity are currently UK policy makers’ preferred option, but complete reliance on this as a solution raises a number of problems. Very high levels of electrification imply the disuse of much of the gas infrastructure, as well as a major change in heating installer products, supply chains and practices. The performance and acceptability of heat pumps in a wide range of UK homes remains unproven. Perhaps, most importantly, meeting all peak heating demands with heat pumps would need approximately 40 GW of additional electricity generation capacity, much of it low carbon, at an investment cost of perhaps £50 billion.

UK energy strategies in uncertainty: uncertainties in energy demand in residential heating. UK Energy Strategies In Uncertainty – Synthesis Report (Eds: Watson, J., Fross, R., Ketsopoulou, I. and Winskel, M.), 2014.

Authors

Eyre, N. and Baruah, P.

LATEST NEWS

Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) Fellowship Programme

Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) Fellowship Programme

The Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) is promoting the programme to further the coverage of fellowships within all CDRI member countries and ensure high-quality research ... read more

Getting animated about the business impacts of extreme weather

Getting animated about the business impacts of extreme weather

Weather-related disasters are creating huge economic strain across the globe, with many businesses requiring climate risk calculations to help manage financial growth and prevent losses. ... read more

Lena Fuldauer awarded 1st prize in the Allianz Climate Risk Research Award

Lena Fuldauer awarded 1st prize in the Allianz Climate Risk Research Award

Congratulations to Lena Fuldauer (ITRC Researcher and PhD student at the Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University) who has won 1st prize in the Allianz Climate Risk Research Awards. The ... read more

RESEARCH THEMES

ENERGY
TRANSPORT
WATER
DIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS
DEMOGRAPHICS
URBAN
DEVELOPMENT
ECONOMICS
INFRASTRUCTURE
GOVERNANCE
NISMOD
RISK AND
RESILIENCE
RESEARCH SOFTWARE ENGINEERING
DATABASES