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Heat is the largest energy end-use with over 50% of global energy consumption

Heat is a form of energy that determines the temperature, volume, and state (gas, liquid or solid) of a material. It can be transferred from one object to another, to raise or lower temperatures, and is most commonly transferred from warmer to cooler matter. It can be produced by converting other forms of energy, such as chemical energy stored in fuels or electrical energy, in boilers, furnaces, pumps or electric heaters. Heat energy allows us to warm and cool our buildings, provides us with hot water and the ability to cook our food. Heat is also required for industrial production of steel, chemicals, food and drink.

Heat accounts for a large proportion of greenhouse gas emissions; the decarbonisation of heat is thus vital to reach emission reduction targets. With various means of production and range of uses embedded in all aspects of our lives, heat constitutes a complicated system that is difficult to lead down a single desired path. As such, fewer countries currently have policies for renewable heat than they do for renewable electricity and transport.

Unlike electricity which can be decarbonised solely by feeding renewable energy into the grid, decarbonising heat also depends on changes at the point of use and may require millions of homes to replace their gas or oil-fired boilers with a new technology. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, since the fuel mix and the means of delivery to the end-user vary greatly from one country to another. Thus, a multiple-technology approach towards low carbon heat is most likely required, resulting in a mix of pathways. These could include electrification using heat pumps, using sustainably-produced hydrogen as a fuel, and setting up district heating networks which can incorporate a range of low-carbon heat sources as well as waste heat from various industrial and urban processes. Heat energy efficiency is also key for emissions reductions and advancements can be made in thermal performance of buildings (e.g. insulation) and the efficiency of heating systems. Wider deployment of combined heat and power (CHP), as it produces electricity and useful heat at the same time, can also help to improve the efficiency of the wider energy system. However, public acceptance, high upfront capital costs, and additional infrastructure and storage requirements pose significant challenges to implementing such transformations of the heat system.

Join the debate on how to speed up progress to low carbon heat at our annual Heat and Decentralised Energy Conference.

Find out energy professionals’ expectations for the future sources of heat in the UK.

Learn more about district heating or combined heat and power by browsing our online knowledge resources.

What's new?

Harnessing London’s underground heat and retrofitting NYC – EI Energy Efficiency conference

28-03-2019
Big city energy management challenges from both sides of the pond were discussed at EI’s annual Energy Efficiency Conference this week in London.Transport for London’s Senior Energy Strategy Manager Alex Gilbert provided an insight into a transit system expected to spend £6 billion on energy by 2030...

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Smart hybrid technology for heat decarbonisation

1-02-2019
There are many routes to decarbonisation of heating, but the use of heat pumps – alongside gas boilers and controls designed to minimise costs and emissions – could be influential. PassivSystems’ Colin Calder writes.

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Integrating energy flows and loads: heat networks

1-01-2019
Where one company’s waste heat stream is a neighbour’s heat source, we have the beginnings of an integrated energy system. They often involve heat networks. Here, David Appleyard looks at two innovative schemes involving smart heat and power distribution to multiple users. 

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‘We have to get regulation back into the political debate’, Ed Davey MP tells Heat 2018

29-11-2018
Former UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Rt Hon Sir Edward Davey MP advocated ‘strong, tough and increasing regulations’ which are ‘on the side of innovation’, in his keynote address to Heat and Decentralised Energy 2018, hosted jointly by the EI and the Association for Decentralis...

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Putting industrial waste heat to use

1-11-2018
Organic Rankine Cycle turbines can be used to increase the energy efficiency of various industrial operations by turning waste heat into useful energy. Sabrina Santarossa explains.

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Events and training

Celebrate World Refrigeration Day - Northampton

26-06-2019
The Energy Institute East Midlands branch would like to invite you to celebrate World Refrigeration Day on the 26th June by visiting a Sainsbury's Pineham distribution centre in Northampton.

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L3: Advanced Energy Manager

30-09-2019
This 10-day course is an advanced qualification aiming to support experienced energy managers to further advance their careers by gaining the skills and knowledge required to function successfully at a senior level and be able to manage energy across a wide range of business areas, activities and pa...

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Heat Recovery Steam Generator user Group 2019

4-12-2019
Event held by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Enjoy peer-reviewed technical presentations and learning opportunities at this year's HRSG User Group. Attend to understand how to keep your technology up to date, enhance its operational lifespan and remain competitive in the market.

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Technical guidance publications

IP 618: Determination of cold filter blocking tendency

2020
This standard specifies a method for the determination of the cold filter blocking tendency (CFBT) and cold filterability of middle distillate fuel oils containing biodiesel from 0 % to 20 %, at temperatures between ambient and -5 °C where the end use demands an exceptional degree of cleanliness...

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EI/JIG Standard 1530 Quality assurance requirements for the manufacture, storage and distribution of aviation fuel to airports (A4)

2019
Jointly published by by JIG (Joint Inspection Group) and the EI.EI/JIG 1530 provides a Standard to assist all parties in the maintenance of aviation fuel quality, from its point of manufacture through to delivery to airports. The Standard includes industry-accepted mandatory provisions and good prac...

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EI/JIG Standard 1530 Quality assurance requirements for the manufacture, storage and distribution of aviation fuel to airports (A5)

2019
Jointly published by by JIG (Joint Inspection Group) and the EI.EI/JIG 1530 provides a Standard to assist all parties in the maintenance of aviation fuel quality, from its point of manufacture through to delivery to airports. The Standard includes industry-accepted mandatory provisions and good prac...

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Guidance for corrosion management in oil and gas production and processing

2019
*This publication has a large file size, please allow extra time for the PDF to download*This second edition of the EI's Guidance on corrosion management in oil and gas production and processing provides general principles and essential engineering guidance and requirements for improving corrosion m...

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EI Standard 1522 Minimum requirements for aviation fuelling hose accessories

2019
This standard provides industry with minimum performance requirements and first article qualification test procedures for aviation fuelling hose accessories used worldwide. Its application by hose users, accessory manufacturers/suppliers and refuelling vehicle suppliers should ensure that such items...

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