Padd Energy

Net Zero and Low Carbon Heat

Heat accounts for around 37% of total UK carbon emissions when industrial processes are included and over 85% of our homes are heated by natural gas.

Decarbonising heat will play a key role in the transition to Net Zero by 2050 (2045 in Scotland) and how we generate and distribute that heat is essential.

While natural gas heat generation still dominates, we have started to see lower carbon solutions penetrate the market and the Government has announced that gas boilers cannot be installed in new homes from 2025 onwards.

So what are the alternatives and how can low carbon heat become a reality?

District Heating

Natural gas is the dominant fuel used for heating homes, commercial buildings and industrial processes in the UK. As progress has been made in the efficiency of boilers, major developments in gas fired generation have been limited to systems such as Combined Heat & Power (CHP). However, as the carbon intensity of the electricity grid decreases, the carbon benefits of gas CHP diminishes.

In Denmark, a focus on district heating networks, recovery of waste heat and decentralised co-generation of heat and power have helped the country’s heat sector to become considerably lower carbon than the UK and many other countries. District heating has also been successfully deployed in countries such as Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Germany and France.

The key is to ensure the heat is produced in a low carbon way, rather than the dominant fuel source being natural gas.

Heat pumps

Heat pumps are not a new technology and use electricity to generate heat. They can be used in domestic, commercial, and industrial applications, typically at lower temperatures than equivalent gas systems. As the electrical grid decarbonises, heat pumps are likely to play a key role in helping reduce emissions associated with the heat sector.

The scale of electrified heat deployment (e.g. heat pumps) will in part depend on how the hydrogen sector develops. In simple terms, burning hydrogen gas with pure oxygen produces heat and water, without greenhouses gases. The commercial production of green hydrogen could be at least 10 years away, but Government and major private sector organisations continue to back this sector, which is likely to accelerate development.

Ironically, the current natural gas network could provide part of the distribution solution – with existing gas pipes repurposed to transport hydrogen gas. In the interim period this will be a blend with natural gas, which starts the decarbonisation transition.


Bio-gas and green gas also offer an alternative to burning natural gas – and in some cases mean existing technologies such as boilers or CHP engines can be re-purposed to run on this cleaner fuel. Consultancies in the energy sector are currently working with major organisations to create green gas solutions that will help to displace natural gas consumption.

Making Net Zero a Reality

Padd Energy is currently working with public and private sector organisations in the UK and globally to plan a route map to Net Zero. The solution differs for each organisation and location, although low carbon heat is a critical element of every project. Our role is to deliver not only a strategy but a clear plan for getting there. Only by doing this can we be certain of making net zero a reality.

To find out more about Padd Energy and how we can help your organisation plan a route to Net Zero contact

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