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Analysis on abating direct emissions from ‘hard-to-decarbonise’ homes (Element Energy & UCL)

1. Outline

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) commissioned Element Energy and UCL to carry out research on the distribution and characteristics of homes considered ‘hard to decarbonise’, with a view to developing treatment packages for decarbonisation of the existing UK housing stock and informing the CCC’s advice on the date for a net-zero emissions target in the UK.

The research focuses on routes to decarbonise space heating and hot water demand in existing homes. It considers the cost optimal mix of energy efficiency and low-carbon heating technology.

2. Key findings

The research found that:

  • Deep decarbonisation across the existing housing stock to nearly zero residual emissions is possible. The Further Ambition scenario abates 95% of direct emissions from existing buildings by 2050 at an annual cost of around £13bn/yr. This scenarios includes 20 million individual heat pumps and hybrid heat pumps (which use hydrogen boilers at times of peak demand) and more than 5 million homes on district heating.
  • The hardest to decarbonise segments of the stock were found to be space-constrained homes (due to limited suitability for lower cost low-carbon heating options), and heritage homes including listed buildings and homes in conservation areas, which will be subject to more onerous planning restrictions and may require more costly and bespoke solutions which enable the character of the property to be retained.