Call for evidence on Heat

17 July 2013

So far much of governments energy policy focus has been on low-carbon electricity generation (in particular, the Energy Bill, which aims to reform the electricity market)

Yet heat is responsible for 46% of UK energy use, approximately a third of UK GHG emissions, and is a major cost in both the domestic and non-domestic sectors. This has been recognised in DECC’s Heat Strategy.

As well as the energy bill, three major government policies impact heat – the renewable heat incentive (RHI), and the green deal, and building regulations.

There are three key aspects to heat – the demand, the generation, and the waste of heat. 

Heat demand varies considerably across the industrial and domestic sectors, and different types of heat lend themselves to different types of mitigation options.  Heat demand can be split between ‘high grade’ and ‘low grade’ heat, dominated by industry and domestic sectors respectively.  Low grade heat is typically for space and water heating, and it is this demand, particularly from the domestic sector, that dominates overall heat use within the UK.

Heat can be generated locally, or via centrally generated electricity.  A range of fuels can be used for local heat production and for electricity generation.
Heat waste is split between the heat leakage and the un-used heat produced during thermal electricity production.  The former is a genuine waste of heat - it has no value and serves no purpose.  There is disagreement concerning the un-used heat from thermo electricity generation; some argue that this heat should be used, for example through combined heat and power (CHP) systems, while others suggest optimal energy efficiency occurs through centralised electricity generation plus heat pumps at the local level.

Call for evidence

The committee has recently held enquiries into the RHI and biomass.  This inquiry will develop these and explore how and where emissions and costs can be reduced from UK heat, specifically looking at the range of trade-offs between costs, GHG emissions, and wider sustainability issues, as well as potential interactions with other technologies – for example distributed use of fuel makes carbon captures and storage difficult.

The Committee invites responses addressing some or all of the following questions:

• Is the government taking the right approach to reduce heat energy demand?
• What progress is the government making on reducing the demand for heat?
• Biomass is deemed a key fuel for heat production from both the cost and GHG perspectives.  What should be done to ensure methods of calculating biomass GHG balance represent an accurate picture?
• There are sustainability guidelines for biomass, do these go far enough?
• What will the local environmental impact (for example air pollution) be from the use heat generation in urban areas, for example CHP units?
• What are the relative merits of using gas to directly provide space heating compared to centralised electricity production plus domestic heat pumps? 
• Why is community heating/CHP not more common in the UK?
• What are the lock-in, costs and GHG savings from the promotion of different forms of domestic heating solution?
• Should the government take any further any specific actions in relation to cooling?
• Why does the RHI not seem to promote heat pumps successfully?
• How successful will the RHI be when rolled out to households?
• Thermal storage is a potential useful method of balancing electricity/energy demand both diurnally and annually.  What is government policy doing to promote thermal storage, and should it do more/different?


The Committee asks for written submissions in accordance with the guidelines below by Monday 2 September 2013.

Submitting written evidence

Written submissions for this inquiry should be submitted via the Heat inquiry page on the Committee's website.

Guidance on written evidence

The deadline is Monday 2 September 2013. As a guideline submissions should state clearly who the submission is from e.g. ‘Written evidence submitted by xxxx’ and be no longer than 3000 words, please contact the Committee staff if you wish to discuss this. If you need to send hard copy please send it to: The Clerk, Energy and Climate Change Committee, 14 Tothill Street, London, SW1H 9NB.

Submissions must be a self-contained memorandum in Word or Rich Text Format (not pdfs). Paragraphs should be numbered for ease of reference, and the document should, if possible, include an executive summary.

Submissions should be original work, not previously published or circulated elsewhere. Once submitted, your submission becomes the property of the Committee and no public use should be made of it unless you have first obtained permission from the Clerk of the Committee. Please bear in mind that Committees are not able to investigate individual cases.

Publication of evidence

The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to publish the written evidence it receives, either by printing the evidence, publishing it on the internet or by making it publicly available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure; the Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.

The personal information you supply will be processed in accordance with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 for the purposes of attributing the evidence you submit and contacting you as necessary in connection with its processing. The Clerk of the House of Commons is the data controller for the purposes of the Act.

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