It’s time to turn up the heat on UK renewables

13th June 2018 | Commercial Energy

The EU is on track to meet the original 20% renewables shared target set in 2020, up from 17% in 2015. But there are significant discrepancies between the countries, each making progress from a different base. In the UK, while there’s been remarkable progress in some areas, we are far behind many EU countries, 11 of which have already gone above and beyond their targets.

However, Britain is now close to its 2020 target to generate 30% of its electricity from renewables. In place of coal, the UK is increasingly relying on renewable energy projects such as wind and solar farms. The UK increased its share of wind, solar and biomass from 8% in 2010 to 28% last year, narrowly behind Denmark’s progress.

As the affordable low-carbon revolution gathers pace in the energy sector, attention is increasingly turning to one of the UK’s other big polluters: heat generation. Almost 40% of the energy consumed in the UK is in the form of heat and its generation. It accounts for 20% of UK CO2 emission, but remains significantly under-utilised, amounting to just 1% of the UK’s heat requirement.


This is compared to an EU average of over 10%, with Sweden producing around half of its heat from renewables. Indeed, at the last update in 2016, we weren’t yet halfway to meeting the target of 12% by 2020.

The options for renewable heat are plentiful, with huge innovations in technology over the last decade – from ground source heat pumps, biomass and air source heat pumps for domestic and commercial properties alike.

Renewable heat has the potential to be hugely disruptive for a number of businesses relying on efficient and reliable heat – from retirement homes to hospitals. This challenge in the context of an ageing population is perhaps even more significant. With the number of people in the UK aged 85 or over expected to increase by 48% over the next 8 years, there are swathes of new retirement complexes being developed across the country. This surge of new buildings could potentially contribute to a rise in CO2 emissions.

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