Explaining the Net Zero Heat programme

Energy efficient home

We are supporting faster scale out of solutions to move away from gas for heating space and water in buildings.

The Innovate UK net zero strategy seeks to ensure we prosper from being the fastest transitioning economy to net zero. This shift is already seeing new industries such as offshore wind grow in the UK and many vital sectors transform to better ways of working.

To meet our net zero commitments, we must move away from gas to heat space and water in our buildings. Not only does this account for around 20% of our emissions, using gas is becoming more and more expensive as it threatens our energy security.

The good news is the technology and solutions to making our buildings more energy efficient and powered by renewable technology exist. The challenge is to industrialise their roll-out so we can decarbonise 30 million buildings in 30 years or sooner.

The Net Zero Heat programme at Innovate UK addresses the barriers holding back this wider deployment. The pioneering businesses that are delivering net zero heat solutions will benefit from support in the following areas.

Energy saving concept. Heating radiator in the shape of a pound sign. 3D rendering.

Central heating radiator in the shape of a pound sign.
Credit: AlexLMX, iStock, Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

Market demand

There is a lack of standardised information on what renovation to do where, and when for building owners. They need to understand the cost and benefits and how they will achieve maximum impact, particularly if not installing all measures at once.

The first competition we will run is for contracts to develop packages that assess groups of buildings. The data should be captured in a nationally consistent way to describe how they can be renovated towards net zero. This idea has been called a Building Renovation Passport by others and the lack of this information is seen as a key obstacle to demand.

Installing measures requires certainty over their performance; is my building really using less energy, which after all is how it will be paid for in the long run. Market demand needs this confidence, and we will run a competition to accelerate solutions from UK companies to rapidly test building performance at a lower cost.

Green finance

To bridge the scaling gap, flows of finance are needed for building owners to fund renovation, to grow the supply chains and projects delivering it. An element of this is how we work with our Net Zero Living colleagues on making net zero renovation projects at a local level more investable.

We have started to build a cohort of companies that have received past support from us, and our partners Sustainable Ventures, and Carbon Limiting Technologies. These companies are the best UK innovators with solutions for the Net Zero Heat challenge. They will form critical parts of a future net zero heat economy. We are working with this cohort to understand the wider barriers to them scaling out their solutions and developing ways to overcome them faster.

Heating radiator on the wall in the shape of a house, 3D rendering.

Central heating radiator in the shape of a house.
Credit: AlexLMX, iStock, Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

Design engineering

The cost of installing energy efficiency and renewable technology measures is reducing with scale of deployment, as for other net zero technologies. Having this cost reduce faster would speed up roll out.

We will run a competition early in 2023 to bring together those working across the system of net zero renovation. Together with experts with potential solutions, we will help them develop projects to reduce both the capital and installation costs of measures and better integrate them.

Inclusivity

Across these activities the Net Zero Heat programme will champion solutions that work for all in society and encourage the broadest and most diverse teams for the projects it supports.

If you want to be alerted first to news from this programme, you can sign up for our Net Zero Heat newsletter.

If you want to see details of our net zero vision, read pages 23 to 26 of Innovate UK’s strategic delivery plan.

For those interested in applying to the Net Zero Heat cohort, please contact me on: mike.pitts@iuk.ukri.org

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Top image:  Energy efficient home. Credit: Mike Pitts

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