Element Energy

Element Energy research on district heating for the CCC published alongside 5th Carbon Budget report

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A novel study by Element Energy for the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) on the potential for heat networks to contribute to the UK’s decarbonisation goals was published recently alongside the CCC’s 5th Carbon Budget advice to the UK Government.

District heating by local authority area in 2050

District heating by local authority area in 2050


Leading a consortium including Frontier Economics and Imperial College, Element Energy assessed the potential contribution of a wide range of low carbon heat sources for heat networks, including biomass, water heat sources, industrial waste heat, sewage and others. As part of this, a state-of-the-art analysis of the spatial coincidence of waste heat and water sources with building heat demand was undertaken. In the Central case, the study found a cost-effective potential by 2030 of 42 TWh/yr for heat networks, covering around 10% of UK space heating and hot water demand and including the connection of around 1.5 million homes. An important role was identified for low carbon heat sources, leading to carbon emissions savings of 6 MtCO2/yr in 2030.

The project also made recommendations, supported by detailed modelling, on the policy interventions which will be required to enable such a level of roll-out of heat networks. Key recommendations include a financial incentive to heat network developers, which could be replaced by carbon taxation in the longer term, competition policy to address natural monopoly concerns and supportive planning policy in the form of dedicated ‘heat zones’ in suitable regions.

The full Element Energy report is available at the following link:

Main Report

The CCC 5th CBR main report is available at the following link:

The fifth carbon budget – The next step towards a low-carbon economy

The CCC 5th CBR Technical report is available at the following link:

Sectoral scenarios for the fifth carbon budget – Technical report

For further information please contact sam.foster@element-energy.co.uk.

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