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Electric heating is officially cleaner than gas central heating

Quantum fuel poverty

The continued investment in renewable energy and reduced reliance on coal-fired power stations means Britain’s electric heating is now officially cleaner than gas central heating, Government figures show.

It is the latest milestone in the UK’s effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions in line with EU obligations, which includes phasing out unabated coal by 2025.

Earlier this year, Britain went for more than three days without generating electricity from coal, the longest period since the 1880s. National Grid says 2017 was officially the greenest on record, as Britain has halved carbon emissions in the electricity sector since 2012.

However, a report from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) shows that the Government widely underestimated the contribution of renewable energy in its projections, which means the UK’s electricity supply between 2014 and 2017 used far less carbon than predicted.

As a result, since 2017 electric heating has had a lower ‘Grid Carbon Factor’ than gas central heating for the first time, with the gap set to widen further in 2018 and beyond. The Grid Carbon Factor represents the amount of CO2 equivalent emitted in grams for each kWhr of energy generated on the National Grid.

Chris Stammers, head of insight at Glen Dimplex Heating & Ventilation, said: “This a landmark moment in the UK’s shift towards decarbonised electricity in order to support our carbon reduction targets.

“It was already clear that the electrification of heat in our buildings would be critical if we are to meet our a legally binding target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% from 1990 levels by 2050.

“Now we know that the Government did not foresee the sizeable contribution of renewable energy in the UK’s recent electricity production, which means direct-acting electric heating is less carbon intensive than natural gas home heating for the first time.

“The Grid Carbon Factor of electric heating in 2017 was recorded at 212gCOe/kWh, compared with 184gCOe/kWh for natural gas home heating – but this figure rises above 216gCOe/kWh when we account for the fact that gas heating is around 85% efficient at the point of use.

“With this gap only set to widen, the potential for low carbon electric heating solutions in homes and businesses appears even greater.”

The figures were published in January 2018 in the Updated Energy and Emissions Projections 2017 document from the Department for BEIS, which gives projections of greenhouse gas emissions and energy demand from 2017 to 2035.