Delivering low carbon heating effectively — and to everyone — will require a local approach, that can be adopted by any city or regional authority, according to experts at the University of Birmingham.
Researchers at the University’s Birmingham Energy Institute, in collaboration with the Energy Research Accelerator, are leading a Policy Commission, Pathways for Local Heat Delivery, focusing on how low carbon heating can be delivered regionally and locally.
Using the city of Birmingham as a case study, the group plans to develop an action plan for regional authorities and city councils that takes into account planning, finance, consumer engagement, local expertise and addresses the challenges presented by local infrastructure, such as gas supplies and the electricity grid. The Policy Commissions is expected to publish its report in March 2022.
The work coincides with the Government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy, published on the 19th October 2021. A key aspect of the Strategy is expected to focus on the challenge of moving households and businesses away from fossil fuel heating. This could include incentivising the move to low carbon alternatives such as heat pumps, solar panels or biomass boilers.
The Policy Commission is chaired by Sir John Armitt, and brings leading figures from the public, private and third sectors together with Birmingham academics to examine all the components required to deliver a local heat solution and the barriers that need removing.
Sir John said: “The decarbonisation of our domestic heating systems is a major challenge. It will require public understanding and support with trusted and effective delivery programmes at an affordable cost. I hope this study will aid central and local government to enable this critical aspect of net zero.”
Professor Martin Freer, Director of the Birmingham Energy Institute, said: “The work of the Pathways for Local Heat Delivery Policy Commission is doing the crucial work that underpins the Heat and Buildings strategy. That is, figuring out exactly low carbon heating can be delivered — not just to those who can afford it and have homes that are ready for heat pumps — but delivered to everyone, including those who are in fuel poverty.
“The level of coordination that is required to deliver low carbon heating mirrors that associated with the interventions required to combat COVID-19. To be truly effective, it’s essential we assemble a National Delivery Body for Low Carbon Heating.”
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