Government needs to fill the ‘retrogap’ in heat policy

The Association for Decentralised Energy is calling for government to introduce a clear, strategic policy framework for heat decarbonisation and energy efficiency; bringing together the fragmented mix of decisions, innovations and demonstrations that are currently commonplace across the UK.

The vision is published in the ADE’s new paper “Zoning for Heat and Energy Efficiency,” launched in partnership with UK Power Networks, who simultaneously released its complimentary “Heat Street” Project.

Current policy aimed mostly at new buildings, believes the ADE. However, most of the buildings that need to be decarbonised are already built. Therefore, the ADE wants to see government introduce new policies to retrofit heat decarbonisation and energy efficiency into the existing building stock too – addressing the ‘retrogap’ in policy.

The most apt way to achieve both outcomes, the Association proposes, is through ‘zoning’ – this means taking a view of local opportunities and local constraints, and identifying the most appropriate heat decarbonisation and energy efficiency package for an area.

Charlotte Owen, policy manager at the ADE, said: “Enabling local decision making and locally tailored decarbonisation pathways will play a key role in reaching net zero. Without implementing approaches such as zoning, the UK risks falling behind on carbon budgets,as set out by the CCC, by missing opportunities for whole systems optimisation, including the use of demand side response. The report suggests that the UK must commit to a strategic patchwork approach to heat decarbonisation, over a single technology pathway. Otherwise, we risk preventing local areas that already have clear decarbonisation opportunities from acting.”

Heat is inherently local, with different areas of the UK able to take advantage of different heat and energy efficiency opportunities. They will also have differing needs in terms of infrastructure and the associated skills and supply chains. To meet our climate change targets, there is no “one size fits all” option and every solution for decarbonisation will require some level of in-home disruption for consumers. The ADE argues that zoning frameworks for heat and energy efficiency can tackle these issues by enabling local buy-in, targeted local solutions, and greater levels of consumer engagement.

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