11 min

Net zero: keeping our homes warm without frying the planet Helm Talks Podcast

    • Business

We are not short of ambitious carbon targets. We have a 78% reduction target for 2035 – just 14 years away – and 100% by 2050. So far, the focus has been on low-carbon electricity generation and electric cars. Heating has been the missing and much harder part – huge amounts of energy, very seasonal and mostly gas.

There are options: heat pumps, some hydrogen, municipal heating schemes and so on. What is missing is any serious plan as to how to make the massive transfer from gas (and oil) to something else, a plan for dealing with the winter peak demands, a plan for energy efficiency, and a plan for urban energy and heating systems. In fact, even new-build houses are not net zero and gas boilers are still the technology of choice in new homes.



It’s time for politicians not only to talk the talk, but to start walking the walk. It’s time to stop the waffle, stop telling people this is not going to cost much, and to drop the cake-ism. Heating is the really tough bit – expensive, hard to implement, and requiring a whole new infrastructure to back it up on those bleak winter, low-wind and low-solar days when the system will already be under enormous stress.

We are not short of ambitious carbon targets. We have a 78% reduction target for 2035 – just 14 years away – and 100% by 2050. So far, the focus has been on low-carbon electricity generation and electric cars. Heating has been the missing and much harder part – huge amounts of energy, very seasonal and mostly gas.

There are options: heat pumps, some hydrogen, municipal heating schemes and so on. What is missing is any serious plan as to how to make the massive transfer from gas (and oil) to something else, a plan for dealing with the winter peak demands, a plan for energy efficiency, and a plan for urban energy and heating systems. In fact, even new-build houses are not net zero and gas boilers are still the technology of choice in new homes.



It’s time for politicians not only to talk the talk, but to start walking the walk. It’s time to stop the waffle, stop telling people this is not going to cost much, and to drop the cake-ism. Heating is the really tough bit – expensive, hard to implement, and requiring a whole new infrastructure to back it up on those bleak winter, low-wind and low-solar days when the system will already be under enormous stress.

11 min

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