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Heat GB: Calculating the network costs for low carbon heating

6 October 2023

Heat GB: Calculating the network costs for low carbon heating [ 1.4 mb]

28 million homes will need to be using low carbon heating systems by 2050 in order to meet net zero targets. 

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) has challenged the UK Government on the need to set a clear direction on the future technology mix for low carbon heat, with heat pumps and heat networks described as no-regrets options in many cases and to identify regions with high, low or no potential to use hydrogen for home heating.

This research contributes to the evidence base for these decisions by exploring one of the key cost factors: the cost to upgrade the electricity cables and gas pipes depending on which heating technology is used, and where it is used.

By looking at four different low carbon heating scenarios in 12 archetypes across GB, Citizens Advice finds:

  • In 10 out of the 12 archetypes, electrification has the lowest network costs, with hydrogen having the lowest costs for the remaining 2 archetypes.

  • Where electrification has the lowest cost this is, on average, 44% below the next lowest cost scenario. Where hydrogen has the lowest it is, on average, 5% lower when hydrogen storage costs are not included.

  • Not specifying a technology (scenario 4) more than doubles the network costs on average as it requires large scale upgrades of both electricity and gas networks.

  • Electrification is the lowest cost option in all rural archetypes by between 53% and 84% and in all industrial archetypes by between 27% and 57%.

  • Upgrades at the distribution network level are the key influence for overall costs in all archetypes and scenarios.

This report from Citizens Advice is based on research commissioned from LCP Delta. The executive summary and full report are included below.

Executive Summary: Heating homes in different regions of Great Britain [ 0.64 mb]

Heating homes in different regions of Great Britain: A study on locational costs of electricity and gas network infrastructure [ 2.9 mb]