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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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New heat storage technology on the way

21-01-2019
What is said to be the world’s first grid-scale pumped heat energy storage (PHES) system has been commissioned by the technical team at the Sir Joseph Swan Centre for Energy Research at Newcastle University. Based in Fareham, Hampshire, the facility includes grid-coupled PHES technology rated a...

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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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Events and training

EI South Western and South Wales Networking Event

9-05-2019
The Energy Institute (South West and South Wales branch) will be hosting a networking event on Thursday 09th May 2019 at Yurt Lush, Bristol.

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Visit to the Bombay Sapphire Distillery

6-06-2019
In building a modern distillery at Laverstoke Mill every reasonable effort has been made to ensure the processes and buildings are as sustainable and efficient as possible.

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L3: Advanced Energy Manager

30-09-2019
This 9-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 par...

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Technical guidance publications

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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HM 8. Continuous density measurement

2019
Accuracy in the measurement of density is essential for bulk volume measurements so that the mass may be determined. Mass may be required for reporting or for other qualitative purposes. This publication covers the continuous determination of the density of liquids and gases including stablecrude oi...

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Guidance on conceptual design, selection and life cycle assurance of products intended to improve integrity of bases of above-ground storage tanks holding petroleum, petroleum products or other fuels

2018
This publication is intended primarily for use by process safety specialists, designers, inspectors, regulators and operators and owners of facilities holding bulk stores of petroleum, petroleum products or other fuels in above-ground storage tanks (ASTs).The information provided in this public...

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Design, construction, modification, maintenance and decommissioning of filling stations (known as the Blue Book)

2018
The fourth edition of Design, construction, modification, maintenance and decommissioning of filling stations (also known as the Blue Book) is essential reading for all those involved in the design, construction, modification, maintenance and decommissioning of facilities for the storage and dispens...

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Fuels for gas turbine engines

2018
Published by Landfall Press; Author: Eric Goodger. Please note that an erratum was issued in December 2018 for this publication, it is available for download and present in the full PDF. This change has been incorporated into the full PDF.Since its emergence during WW2 as a viable alternative t...

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