The transition to low carbon heat—recent regulatory developments on heat networks

The transition to low carbon heat—recent regulatory developments on heat networks

Energy analysis: With the ever-increasing pressure on the UK to move to net zero by 2050, this analysis discusses recent regulatory developments seeking to support the transition to low carbon heating and highlights future developments relevant to heat networks.

The decarbonisation of heat is anticipated to play a fundamental role in achieving net zero. The pressure to move to net zero, a target enshrined in the Climate Change Act 2018 (CCA 2018), whereby carbon emissions are reduced to as close to zero as possible by 2050 and any remaining emissions are offset by the equivalent amount being removed from the atmosphere, has been increasing rapidly.

Recently, net zero has been put into an even sharper focus in the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19) landscape, with the contraction of traditional oil and gas markets due to lower levels of industrial demand, the accelerated push towards renewable energy and growing calls from consumers and stakeholders for strengthened commitment to sustainability and green recovery.

Electrification of heat through the transition to heat networks and, at a household level, through a broader deployment of heat pumps to replace gas boiler demand, remain the main routes for decarbonisation.

This article discusses recent regulatory developments seeking to support the transition to low carbon heating and highlights future developments relevant to heat networks.

Heating networks may be eligible for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) schemes, which provide financial support from the government to renewable heat installations where the heat is generated from an RHI-eligible technology (including, for example, biomass, heat pumps, solar and energy from waste). While this aspect is outside the scope of this article, it is worth noting that the RHI schemes are coming to an end (the non-domestic RHI is closing on 31 March 2021 and the domestic scheme on 31 March 2022) and there have been interesting recent developments relating to their closure and replacement.

Climate Change Act 2018

The CCA 2018 (as amended by The Climate Change Act 2008 (2050 Target Amendment) Order 2019, 

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About the author:
Ruth is a solicitor specialising in energy law. She has extensive regulatory and transactional experience in projects within the power, renewables and oil & gas sectors, both in the UK and internationally, and often with a project finance dimension. Her experience includes advising on electricity interconnector development projects, gas pipeline projects, power plant projects (including IPPs, wind farms and waste to energy plants), electricity trading (including on Grid Trade Master Agreements (GTMAs), and advising a power exchange on the development of standard documentations), energy M&As, energy sector privatisations, gas purchase and gas tolling agreements, and joint operations.

Ruth trained and qualified at Dentons (including a six-month stint in their Moscow office), and subsequently worked at Allen & Overy, Herbert Smith Freehills and Ashurst. Ruth joined LexisNexis® in March 2020. She has written a number of articles which have been published in various publications.