EU 2020 targets on renewable energy and heat should be ditched because they are wasting money. There are more cost-effective ways to decarbonise energy, particularly heat, according to a new report by an influential think tank. It also calls for government to make energy efficiency a national policy priority.
Policy Exchange’s Too hot to handle? report criticises the government’s over-reliance on heat pumps as a means to decarbonise heat and urges the department for business, energy & industrial strategy (BEIS) to come up with a more balanced approach.
The think tank says a better focused strategy combining efficiency, more efficient gas appliances, greener forms of gas, and alternative heat technologies could deliver an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050, while minimising costs to the consumer.
It recommends reforming the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) to a Low Carbon Incentive, which would allow subsidy for things such as waste heat, which is currently unsupported, as well as other non-renewable but more affordable low carbon technologies.
Government should also scale up support for heat networks and enable regulators to create better market frameworks, the report suggests.
That suggestion was welcomed by industry.
“There is growing consensus that new heat infrastructure needs a regulatory investment framework, from industry to parliament to academia,” said ADE director Tim Rotheray.
“Heat networks need to be treated on a level playing field as any other kind of network infrastructure, whether that is gas, electricity or water.”
Report co-author Richard Howard, said he hoped the current administration would rethink its overall strategy.
“The previous government put all its eggs in one basket with a strategy focusing on electric heat pumps. This is a mistake given the huge costs involved – which inevitably would be picked up by UK consumers,” said Howard.
“Our alternative approach, which still achieves an 80% reduction in emissions, involves making significant improvements in home insulation and boiler efficiency, and switching to greener forms of gas such as biomethane, which can be produced from waste food and other organic materials and injected into the gas grid.”
See the full report here.