Gas networks, with the support of the government and Ofgem, need to start laying “stepping stones” towards the decarbonisation of heat in the early 2020s, industry stakeholders have told the Energy Networks Association (ENA).

The organisation has released a new report produced by Accent summarising the feedback from a recent stakeholder engagement workshop on the RIIO2 price controls.

The participants, which included industry associations, academics, consultancies and consumer groups, said gas networks should act with urgency rather than just waiting for a policy-decision from government. They must find a middle ground between closing off opportunities by underinvesting and overinvesting and being left with stranded assets.

Stakeholders said network operators need to develop a stronger evidence base on the options for the decarbonisation of heat through trials and demonstrations projects, and implement low-regrets measures where they present themselves.

At the same time, many also identified the lack of a clear policy direction as the biggest barrier to progress. They called for more public debate to help consumers understand the implications of different solutions.

ENA chief executive David Smith said: “The message from across Britain’s energy industry is clear: Ofgem’s RIIO2 regulatory framework for gas network companies should enable the investment and innovation needed for decarbonisation.

“Following the Committee on Climate Change’s recent advice that a net zero emissions target changes hydrogen from being an option to an integral part of the strategy, the evidence is building that low-carbon gasses play a vital role in a whole systems approach to decarbonisation.”

Ofgem is due to make a decision on its plans for the RIIO2 price controls by the end of May.

What to read next