Decarbonising heat remains a key energy challenge in the UK and indeed globally.  Residential heat forms the largest single source of emissions from heat demand in the UK.  This technological and policy challenge is further compounded by a high dependence on natural gas; in 2017, the share of gas in residential space heating demand was 75%.

The Netherlands is the only other country in Europe with an greater dependence on natural gas for heating. The UK and the Netherlands are therefore both embarking on a transition away from natural gas. Both countries have a strong climate policy framework and share common expectations that reduced heat demand, more district heat networks and a higher proportion of heat from renewable sources will form key elements of the solution.

However, following earthquakes in the Gröningen region linked to gas extraction in January 2018, the Dutch government moved decisively to ‘get rid of gas’ by 2030, including for residential heating. This has provided major momentum to heat decarbonisation policy in the Netherlands , which is currently moving far more quickly than in the UK.  This pace of change in the Netherlands offers an opportunity for the UK to learn from Dutch successes and challenges. This includes current decisions about networks, technologies and energy vectors, and governance frameworks.

This project will therefore:

  • assess current governance approaches to heat decarbonisation in the UK and the Netherlands;
  • investigate how these approaches has been shaped by the two different national institutional contexts; and
  • ascertain what, if any useful lessons from the Netherlands, especially for the governance of heat transitions at a local level, may have value for the UK.