The heat is on: How can businesses tackle their heating emissions?

By James Sampson, Inspired Energy

As a growing number of businesses pledge to reduce their carbon emissions to net zero, more organisations are realising how challenging it is to reduce their emissions in one particular area – heat. For most organisations, heating makes up a significant proportion of their overall carbon footprint – so those who are aiming for net zero need to act now to reduce their heating emissions.

It’s a challenge that’s not just baffling businesses – industry and Government leaders are still trying to carve out the ideal route to achieve the degasification of our heating systems. In fact, heating is now the UK’s biggest source of emissions, accounting for 37% of the UK’s overall carbon footprint. Clearly, this is an area that businesses and the Government alike must focus on if they’re going to reach their ambitious decarbonisation targets.

Why is decarbonising heat so difficult?

Most businesses currently rely on gas-fired central heating, and unlike electricity, they can’t simply switch to a new tariff or supplier to access low-carbon heat. While there are a number of ongoing trials exploring how natural gas could be replaced with green hydrogen in our heating systems, most businesses will need to change their existing gas-fired systems with renewable technologies in order to decarbonise their heating.

Replacing traditional systems with new technology can be costly, which is likely to deter businesses with limited budgets for sustainability improvements. Typically, businesses would wait until plant or equipment has reached the end of its lifecycle before they replace them, to ensure they’ve gotten the most value out of their initial investment. However, some energy managers are finding that in order to meet their net zero goal, they need to replace their existing system before it’s reached end-of-life, which can make it difficult for them to build a business case and get sign-off for heating projects. It’s particularly challenging because gas is a cheap fuel, which makes it harder to convince senior teams of the need to install a new system that will incur substantial CAPEX costs.

Lots of businesses also face issues with retrofitting new systems into existing buildings. Fitting new technologies into older sites can be complex, and there might simply not be enough space in certain sites to fit a system of the size the business would need to meet its heating requirements. Finding a solution that is simple and cost-efficient to install can therefore be tricky for some organisations, which means they’re more likely to turn to lower-hanging fruit.

There has also been a real lack of incentives to encourage businesses to switch to a low-carbon heating solution since the commercial Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) ended in March 2021. Subsidies were critical to the development of renewable electricity sources like solar PV, as they encouraged adoption of these technologies among businesses and individuals, which subsequently caused the price of these technologies to fall. Currently, the cost of replacing a traditional central heating system with a renewable heating solution is typically much higher than simply fitting another fossil-fuelled boiler, and unless new subsidies are introduced this could be the case for years to come. We therefore hope to see new subsidies announced to support the growth of renewable heating technologies before COP26 in November.

The hassle-free way to reduce your heating emissions

It takes a lot of careful planning and consideration to ensure that you choose the best low-carbon heating solution for your business’s goals and requirements. Many businesses will struggle to commit the time and resources needed to implement their ideal solution, so Inspired Energy’s heating experts are available to help you take the hassle out of reducing your heating emissions.

From helping you to fit a permanent or temporary sub-metering system, to recommending and installing the optimum low-carbon heating solution for your needs, Inspired Energy can provide support wherever you need it. To find out more, speak to James Sampson on 01772 689250 or email [email protected]

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