UK Power Networks has become the first UK electricity network to outline how it plans to help reduce the carbon impact of heating.

Heat is the biggest single source of UK greenhouse gases, accounting for over a third of total UK CO2 emissions. UK Power Networks, which keeps the lights on for 8.3 million homes and businesses in London, the East and South East of England, is now holding a consultation on its strategy to encourage industry-wide collaboration and debate.

The network operator aims to be a ‘facilitator of decarbonised heat for all customers’ and the strategy sets out a three-point approach. To inform heat decarbonisation policy through provision of data and evidence, deliver a great service experience for customers during the energy transition and undertake least regret actions to ensure electricity network readiness

The document sets out a short-term strategy to begin facilitating the uptake of heat pumps and support early entrants to the market. It aims to help electricity networks understand, mitigate and prepare for the potential impact of electric heating, and will show UK Power Networks where to focus.

The first step is to establish how electricity networks can support the decarbonisation of the two million homes in the UK that are not connected to the gas network and are instead burning oil or coal for heating.

Ian Cameron, head of customer service and innovation at UK Power Networks said: “We undertook an extensive stakeholder engagement programme in the fast-moving electric vehicle sector, which demonstrated how important it is to work closely and collaboratively with as much of the industry as possible. Building on our experience with electric vehicles, we know that the best solutions come from collaborations, often with firms and people that are newcomers to the energy industry.”

UK Power Networks surveyed attendees at a recent event and found two thirds of housing developers polled are considering installing low carbon heating in forthcoming developments, and that almost half (40%) view initial upfront costs the biggest barrier to delivering low carbon heat.

The company has already undertaken a series of innovation projects to broaden industry understanding of the impacts and opportunities around decarbonising heat, including the four-year Low Carbon London and collaborative gas and electricity project Green City Vision. Its experts are also exploring inclusive approaches to enable multi occupancy building domestic customers to participate in the Net Zero transition at lower costs in its Urban Energy Club project.

Dr Joanne Wade OBE, deputy director of the Association for Decentralised Energy said: “Decarbonising heat is essential if we are to reach net zero carbon emissions, and UK Power Networks new strategy is an important statement of intent and contribution to the debate. The scale of the challenge means that no one organisation or sector can possibly have all the answers, which is why the consultation on the document is so important.”