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Decarbonisation of Heat in Great Britain

Today – Wednesday 20 October 2021 – we publish the most comprehensive study to date of heat decarbonisation in Great Britain, coinciding with the release of the government’s new Heat and Buildings strategy.

This study was conducted for a group of 15 clients in the public and private sectors interested in potential pathways for decarbonising residential heating, and the impact of these pathways on the energy system. The ambition for all new heating installations to be low carbon from 2035 is essential to meeting the net zero target in 2050, and our study found that electricity demand for home heating is set to quadruple by 2050 as part of the shift away from gas-fired boilers.

The key findings from the study include:

  • Phasing out natural gas boiler installations by 2035 is crucial for eliminating CO2 from home heating; delaying to 2040 could leave us with ¼ of today’s home heat emissions in 2050
  • Achieving deployment of 600k heat pumps per year by 2028 will require policy intervention both to lower costs and to inform and protect consumers
  • Almost £40bn could be saved in cumulative system costs by 2050 through adoption of more efficient and flexible electric heating technologies, like networked heat pumps and storage
  • Electricity demand from heating could quadruple by 2050 to over 100TWh per year, almost a third of Great Britain’s current total annual electricity demand
  • Using hydrogen for a share of heating could lower peak power demand, although producing most of this hydrogen from electrolysis would raise overall power demand

View the public version of our report to explore the findings in greater detail.

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