Heat

Join the EI» Manage your membership»
Join the EI» Manage your membership»

Heat is the largest energy end-use with over 50% of global final 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 have policies 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.

Learn about the decarbonisation of heat by reading our Energy Insights.

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

Learn more about the future of heat and its role in society by browsing our online New Energy World magazine records.

What's new?

UK Autumn Statement: More heat on average energy users and 45% levy on low carbon electricity generators

23/11/2022

Let’s look at the statement in detail. Energy bills: Many were concerned to learn that help with escalating energy bills is being scaled back. Fr...

Read more »

Possible 30bn cm European gas supply-demand gap predicted

16/11/2022

The research shows that gas storage sites in the European Union (EU) are now 95% full – putting them 5% above the five-year average fill level. Howeve...

Read more »

World’s first net zero emissions logistics building

16/11/2022

The facility will be built by urban investor NREP. Embodied carbon has been designed out from each element of the 20,000 m2 building, with carbon neut...

Read more »

A wealth of announcements and deals at COP27

16/11/2022

COP27 goes on – the final text is due to be agreed and released at the end of this week. Yet several significant announcements have already been made....

Read more »

COP27 looking to deliver the promises of Paris

09/11/2022

Three days in and the scene has been set by UN Secretary General António Guterres, suggesting that the world is on a ‘highway to climate hell with our...

Read more »

Events and training

How to design and build an ‘off-grid’ electrical system

08/12/2022

This is an in-person joint event hosted by the Energy Institute and the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment. 

Read more »

Level 3: Advanced Energy Manager

09/10/2023 - 26/02/2024

This 10-day course is an advanced qualification aiming to support experienced energy managers to further advance their careers by gaining the skills a...

Read more »

Technical guidance publications

Research report: Application of life cycle assessment methodology to the understanding of the energy balance and efficiency of hydrogen value chain building blocks

2022

This document is free to download for registered users.This publication explores the efficiencies of the hydrogen energy system and quantifies the ene...

Read more »

Guidelines for the assessment of ageing and life extension of non-metallic components in the offshore oil and gas industry, volume 2: composite equipment and repairs

2022

This document captures industry good practice, knowledge and learning on these elements of composite materials. This guidance will provide a star...

Read more »

Waste to products – Technology and economic assessment (phase 1)

2022

This document is free to download for registered users.The EMG and Soil Wastes and Groundwater group (SWG) of the EI and Concawe have commissioned E4t...

Read more »

Model Code of Safe Practice Part 17: High pressure and high temperature (HPHT) well planning, control, completions and interventions

2022

This document is intended for guidance and contains recommendations for safe practices to be used as a model for development of policy in constructing...

Read more »

A site operator's guide to electric vehicle charging equipment at filling stations

2022

This document is aimed at operators of filling stations and those responsible for deciding whether or not to install electric vehicle charging equipme...

Read more »

You may also be interested in

Online tools and software collection

A selection of interactive maps and calculators that let you explore trends across a range of different energy topics, including heat.

Energy Insight: Integrating power, transport, and heat

This Energy Insight explains how using electricity and hydrogen as energy carriers in heat and transport could bring economic and decarbonisation benefits to the whole energy system