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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.

Read our Energy Insights on heat.

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?

Turning up the heat

1-09-2019
A consortium of pioneering gas transmission projects, under the banner of H21, led by Northern Gas Networks, aims to demonstrate that the UK gas grid can be converted to hydrogen technically, safely and economically. Brian Davis reports.

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Energy Insight: Decarbonisation of heat in the UK

28-06-2019
In order to meet emissions reductions targets, every sector of the economy must be decarbonised, including power, heat and transport. This Energy Insight focuses on heat, including space heating, water heating and industrial processes.• What progress has been made in decarbonising heat?• What are th...

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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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Events and training

EI/CATCH Clean Growth Conference 2019

25-09-2019
The Humber EI branch is delighted to welcome EI and CATCH Members and wider national/regional stakeholders to the joint EI/CATCH Clean Growth Conference 2019.

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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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Tour and presentation of the Southampton District Energy Scheme

15-10-2019
Join the EI Southern branch for a tour and presentation of the Southampton District Energy Scheme.

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Study Tour to Yunfu

25-10-2019
Energy Institute Hong Kong will organize a Study Tour to Yunfu on 25 - 27 October 2019 for her members and guests.

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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 the EI and JIG (Joint Inspection Group).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 practic...

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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 the EI and JIG (Joint Inspection Group).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 practic...

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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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G+/DROPS Reliable securing booklet for offshore wind

2019
Free to download. For more information on the G+ visit www.gplusoffshorewind.comThis document is an adaptation of selected DROPS Reliable securing, Best practice recommendations for the securing of structure and equipment at the worksite content to provide guidance and functional recommend...

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