The decarbonisation of heat is a major challenge facing the UK (and beyond) in its transition to a net zero carbon economy.
As heat accounts for approximately 37% of the total UK carbon emissions, it is clear why there is an increasing focus on how heat can be decarbonised. Ricardo has been working in the delivery of CHP and renewable heat projects and programmes for many years and has world-leading expertise and knowledge on all aspects of heat decarbonisation, from policy development through to feasibility and implementation of low/no-carbon heating technologies.
Compared to the expansion of renewable electricity and transport, the delivery of low carbon heat has a greater number of technological, infrastructure, economic, consumer and market barriers to overcome.
Our heat decarbonisation team at Ricardo Energy and Environment are at the forefront of supporting both public and private sectors to turn these challenges to decarbonise heat into opportunities – from carrying out techno-economical assessments and options appraisals, developing strategies and roadmaps for the transition to low carbon heating (including infrastructure and heat networks), and developing innovative technologies such as bioenergy and carbon capture with storage (BECCS), and alternative fuels such as hydrogen, and biofuels.
Heat decarbonisation hierarchy
There are a number of options available to decarbonise heat, and at Ricardo we have developed a Heat Decarbonisation Hierarchy as a framework to outline the low carbon alternatives that we can help you to realise.
Energy efficiency and optimisation
As with the use of any resource, the focus should be first on reducing how much is used. In the case of heat, opportunities to improve the energy efficiency of buildings should be a priority, ensuring future low carbon heating is designed to match reduced loads. For industrial heat users, processes should be optimised and opportunities for waste heat recovery explored, with cost effective solutions being implemented first.
Low carbon heat source
Following on from this, the next step is to make the transition from fossil-fuel based heating to a low carbon alternative – such as biomass, solar, heat pumps, or connection to low carbon heat networks.
For many industrial heat users, who require higher temperatures, heat pumps are less likely to be a feasible option, and therefore other opportunities such as fuel switching will need to be explored, for example the use of biofuels or hydrogen as alternative to fossil fuels.
Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS)
Finally, for the most energy intensive and hard to abate sites which include high temperature processes within manufacturing, the opportunity to decarbonise lies in Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage, including Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS), which has the potential for negative emissions.
Get in touch
If you are considering how your organisation can decarbonise heat and need expert support, contact us using the form on the right of this page for an informal discussion on how we can help.
Meet the team