The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has issued a call for evidence to “prepare the ground” for the decarbonisation of heating.

The consultation will explore the range of actions available for the government to take over the next decade to drive the rollout of low-carbon heating systems, whilst reducing the current reliance on subsidies.

“This is an ambitious change to the way millions of people heat their homes and businesses and presents a significant market opportunity,” wrote energy and clean growth minister Claire Perry in the ministerial foreword.

“However, this is also something that must be done if we are to meet our legally binding carbon targets, improve air quality and ensure that everyone has a warm, comfortable home. This call for evidence is the beginning of a long journey, and I am committed to bringing everyone with us.”

Perry said it was “imperative” for the government to collaborate with the industry to bring about the transition. “However,” she added, “it must be understood that we will not be heating our buildings in 2050 by setting fire to the same substances people burned in the Victorian era…

“Our heating industry must retain its position as a world leader, seeing this process as an opportunity to lead the change that is necessary, and not let the world change without them.”

She continued: “This document is the first step, and in it I seek to explore the options available to take action during the 2020s and build consensus for action. I want to ensure that we understand what government, industry and consumers can do to reduce the barriers to the installation of clean heating systems.

“I want to reduce the reliance on subsidy, and I want to prepare the ground for the future.”

The topics covered by the consultation include:

  • The long-term plan for the phase out of high-carbon fossil fuel heating.
  • Barriers to the adoption of low-carbon alternatives.
  • Technology options for off gas grid properties, from biofuels to heat pumps to rural heat networks.
  • Opportunities for further innovation.
  • Regulatory options to encourage the uptake of low-carbon heating following the eventual closure of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) to new applicants.
  • Unlocking private sector finance in the absence of subsidies.
  • Encouraging new business models, such as heat as a service.
  • Engaging with consumers and increasing their interest in low-carbon heating.
  • Skills required to enable the transition.

“We will use the evidence received in response to this document to design and implement a clear framework that will follow on from the Renewable Heat Incentive, once it closes to new applicants, for domestic and non-domestic buildings through to the 2030s,” the document states.

The deadline for responses is 11 June 2018.

A report on the RHI released by the National Audit Office in February found take-up of the scheme has been “much lower than originally anticipated”. Only 111,000 installations are projected to take place by March 2021 compared to an original target of 513,000 by this date.

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