Transition to low-carbon heat

Low-carbon heat

Over the next 30 years the UK energy system will need to transition to low-carbon heat. This ERP project is looking at options for low-carbon heat, their trajectory to 2050 and beyond to zero-carbon economy in 2080. An important aspect is the governance and how top-down and bottom-up aspects join up, in terms of:

  • Implementation: including retrofit practicalities, supply chain development, logistics for customers and utilities, and user acceptance of technologies.
  • Systems Implications: including infrastructure requirements, and primary energy demand.

It focuses primaily on decarbonising domestic and commercial heat and builds on techno-economic analysis of specific heating technologies. The main options for low-carbon heat are broadly classified as:

  • Demand reduction
    • Insulation and energy efficiency
    • Behaviour change
  • Low-carbon energy supply
    • Decarbonising the gas supply using hydrogen or synthetic methane
    • Decarbonisation of District Heating
    • Electrification with heat pumps and hybrid systems
    • Niche technologies: e.g. biomass & solar thermal

In January 2017 ERP convened an industry workshop to explore the challenges of deploying heat pumps (see project outputs for a note of the meeting).

The project is investigating each option in terms of:

Overarching questions

  • What is the reach of each option?
  • What are the constraints?
  • Will different options work together?

Bottom-up – implementation

  • What are the practicalities for retrofits and logistics for customers and utilities?
  • How quickly can supply chains and skill sets develop?
  • What heating appliances and storage are in each home?
  • What insulation measures are needed / cost effective?
  • How will users respond to and use new technologies?
  • How effective will measures be?

Top-down – system implications

  • What are the infrastructure requirements?
  • How will it affect primary energy demand?
  • Are market drivers or intervention needed?


  • What are the logistics for households, commercial buildings and utilities?
  • What resources are required? How long will it take?


The low-carbon heat project was launched at an event on 11th October 2016  (more information is available on the event page).

For more information, please contact Richard Heap or Simon Cran-McGreehin.

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