This briefing on the COP26 climate change conference to be held in Glasgow in November 2021 covers the work of the UK and president designate, Alok Sharma in the lead up COP26. It also covers the priorities set out for the conference together with progress to date on these.
Heat networks deliver heat from a central source to multiple users in a local area and can also deliver cooling. Communal heat networks heat two or more dwellings within one building (such as flats), while district heat networks connect multiple buildings. In the UK today, heat networks provide only a small proportion of heating, but the Government is exploring ways to expand the use of heat networks in future.
The UK’s net zero emission target will require a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from heating buildings to close to zero. Various sources of heat can provide the central heating source for a heat network. While most heat networks in the UK today are heated by gas, there are also alternative, lower emission heat sources such as heat pumps, waste heat from natural or industrial processes, and geothermal heat.
Most heating in the UK today is provided by gas boilers. There are various low-carbon heating alternatives to gas that are being pursued. Heat networks are one of these possible alternatives.
Briefing on Heat Networks
Background information on heat networks is available from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST’s) note on Heat networks (published 29 September 2020). This includes information on heat network technology, the development of new networks, user experience of heat networks, and attracting investment to heat networks.
Since this note was published, there have been some further Government announcements on heat networks:
Green Heat Network Fund Consultation – November 2020.
This consultation sought views on the design of a proposed Green Heat Network Fund (GHNF) scheme. The GHNF is intended to be a capital grant funding programme which aims to help new and existing heat networks move to low and zero carbon technologies. The consultation closed on 29 January 2021: the webpage states the Government are analysing the feedback.
Energy white paper – December 2020
The Energy White Paper sets out the UK Government’s plans to “address the transformation of our energy system, promoting high-skilled jobs and clean, resilient economic growth as we deliver net-zero emissions by 2050.”
The paper includes a section on Heat Networks (page 113). This includes the following commitments:
- We are committing £122 million of funding towards a new Heat Network Transformation Programme and will implement local authority zoning by 2025.
The Heat and Buildings Strategy
A Heat and Buildings Strategy is expected to be published soon. This may set out further policy on heat networks and other types of low carbon heating. In response to a parliamentary question in March 2021 on low carbon heating policy, the Minister for Business, Energy, and Clean Growth, Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, said:
- The Government is planning to publish a Heat and Buildings Strategy in due course, which will set out the immediate actions we will take to reduce emissions from buildings.
A debate on Global Britain, human rights and climate change is scheduled to take place in Westminster Hall on Tuesday 7 September 2021, from 4:30-5:30pm. The debate will be opened by Hywel Williams MP.
Spot oil prices were around $75 per barrel in early July 2021. They crashed after the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown led to a dramatic cut in demand. Prices fell from almost $70 a barrel in early January to below $20 per barrel in late April 2020. Oil prices peaked in July 2008 at almost $150 per barrel and were in the $100-125 range for much of 2011 to early 2014.