By Claire Wych

Following the Government’s firm Spring Statement commitment to disallow fossil heating in new build homes from 2025, industry was eager to hear from Claire Perry MP, Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth on rising to the challenge.

Speaking to the audience at Energy Systems Catapult’s event -“A new approach to decarbonising heating” – Perry set out the three most pressing challenges for delivering on Government’s ambitious plans:

  • Taking a whole systems approach to decarbonising heating
  • Developing a low carbon offer that works for consumers
  • Communicating the value of low carbon solutions and taking a bottom-up approach

Transport and heat are becoming increasingly electrified while waste is playing a greater role in delivering electricity and heat. A whole systems approach, that can make sense of the synergies and interlinks between the four, is profoundly important to successful decarbonisation. Introducing a whole-of-Government approach is allowing ministers and civil servants to develop policies bilaterally.

Equally digitalisation and data are providing greater insights into how we produce and consume energy, as our system becomes increasingly decentralised. What may be the best option one minute, may not be the next; as such Perry offered that policy should not be about picking winners but focus on a system that can oscillate between several options to get the best outcome in terms of affordability, decarbonisation and balanced demand.

Finally, the “thorny” issue of communicating this to businesses and consumers; there’ll be many new products introduced – boilers, meters, insulation, renewable systems – but how do we incentivise take up? While tax relief and financial incentives may play a role, Perry said that research shows that consumers “move to embrace the change when they see the benefits”.

As Perry surmised, heating is the greatest decarbonisation challenge that we stand against. To succeed, Perry outlined a pragmatic approach to deliver solutions at the lowest cost and that have maximum impact on the consumer. And it is the consumer – whether that’s householders, businesses, the public sector or large industrial sites – that need to be at the very heart of everything we do, from research and policy formation to innovation and communication.

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