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New cross-party inquiries start policy debate to transform how we heat homes and buildings

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o   Carbon Connect launches Future Heat Series inquiries, chaired by Jonathan Reynolds MP and Dan Byles MP at conference event in Parliament

o   Two inquiries to look at major transformations needed over coming decades to decarbonise how we heat homes and buildings

o   The cross-party inquiries will:

o   map the topic for well-informed debate

o   set heat as an energy policy priority for the next Government

o   point to future policy challenges

o   build consensus from the early stages of policy development

Carbon Connect’s 2014 research project is examining the future of heat for homes and buildings. The cross-party inquiries are being chaired by Labour Shadow Energy Minister, Jonathan Reynolds MP, and Conservative Member of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, Dan Byles MP.

Heat accounts for almost half of the energy consumed in the UK, around 75 per cent of which is space heating for buildings in the domestic, public and commercial sectors. Gas is the dominant fuel used for heat in the UK, meeting around 80 per cent of consumers heating needs. The way we heat our homes and buildings will need to change significantly to meet long term carbon targets and diversify the UK’s energy supply mix.

Heat is a poorly understood area of energy but there is lots of relatively new analysis from Government, academia and industry. The first Carbon Connect inquiry will review these and provide a policy-focused overview and assessment, highlighting areas of consensus and uncertainty.

Electricity has dominated energy policy, but around half of all energy consumed in the UK is for heat, which is predominantly fuelled using gas. The Future Heat Series will set heat policy as a priority for the next Government, raising awareness of the relative importance of heat, the huge challenge of decarbonising heat whilst keeping bills affordable and the current ‘gap’ in energy policy.

As with Carbon Connect’s Future Electricity Series which Charles Hendry MP and Baroness Worthington chaired throughout 2013, we will unpack some of the policy options and challenges. This will be the first step in debating and developing policies that meet the challenge of a wholesale transformation of heating in homes and buildings by 2050.

A major focus of our Future Electricity Series was building political consensus and highlighting its value for securing investment. With policy to support decarbonisation of heat at a much earlier stage than for electricity, the Future Heat Series will be building consensus from the start of the process, politically and across industry.

The two inquiries will culminate in reports published in Autumn 2014 and early 2015.

Speaking at the parliamentary launch of the Future Heat Series, inquiry co-chair and Labour Shadow Energy Minister, Jonathan Reynolds MP, said:

“Heat has often overlooked when considering energy policy, so having a major piece of work which looks at the future of heat is very welcome. The Future Heat Series inquiries will examine the key transformations likely to be needed in the way we heat our homes and buildings and begin debating the policy implications. I am very pleased to be working with Carbon Connect who will be running this inquiry.”

Inquiry co-chair and Conservative Member of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, Dan Byles MP, said:

“Eighty-three percent of our homes are heated by gas and a third of our greenhouse gas emissions come from heat. This is a policy area full of challenges and ripe with opportunities. It is really important that we have political consensus on long term energy and climate change policy, and that is why the Future Heat Series is such a healthy initiative.”

Keith Needham, Technical Services Manager at the Institution of Gas Engineers and Managers, sponsors of the independent series, said:

“I am very pleased that the launch of the Heat series was supported by industry in such a magnificent way yesterday. The enthusiasm for the series was evident and the discussions very lively and innovative. As the research progresses views of the domestic and commercial sectors of the gas industry are going to be immensely important.”

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