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Joe Bradbury looks at how social housing providers are leading the way towards a renewable future

Social housing providers in the UK have been at the forefront of adopting renewable heating systems as part of efforts to reduce carbon emissions and improve energy efficiency.

While significant progress has been made, the prevalence of old heating technologies, including solid fuel, oil, LPG, and gas, still poses challenges. Housing Association Magazine’s Joe Bradbury explores the adoption of renewable heating in social housing and provides insights into the remaining use of old technologies.

Renewable heating systems, such as air source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps, and biomass boilers, have gained traction in social housing.

As of 2021, it was estimated that approximately 20% of social housing providers in England had installed some form of renewable heating system.

These systems help lower carbon emissions and reduce reliance on fossil fuels, contributing to a more sustainable future.

Sharing best practices and success stories can further inspire the wider adoption of renewable heating

Joe Bradbury Joe Bradbury Digital Editor of Housing Association magazine

Code for Sustainable Homes

The Code for Sustainable Homes, a previous national standard in England, played a role in driving the transition to low-carbon heating in social housing.

While it did not specifically mandate renewable heating, it incentivised the use of technologies like heat pumps and district heating systems.

Despite progress, there are still social housing units in the UK reliant on old heating technologies. Solid fuel, oil, LPG, and gas heating systems are prevalent in some areas and properties.

The continued use of these high-carbon technologies poses challenges for achieving decarbonisation targets and the transition to a greener future.

Gas heating

Gas boilers have been a dominant heating technology in UK households, including social housing.

However, the UK government has set a target to phase out the installation of new gas boilers by the mid-2030s.

This transition away from gas heating poses both opportunities and challenges for social housing providers.

Alternative low-carbon solutions, such as heat pumps and district heating networks, need to be explored and implemented.

To accelerate the adoption of renewable heating in social housing, the UK government has introduced various support schemes and initiatives.

The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and the recent Clean Heat Grant provide financial assistance and incentives for the installation of renewable heating systems.

These programs aim to encourage social housing providers to embrace sustainable heating solutions.

Moving forward

The commitment to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 necessitates a comprehensive transition away from high-carbon heating technologies.

Social housing providers, along with the government, need to collaborate and invest in renewable heating systems.

This includes assessing the feasibility of different technologies, addressing funding challenges, and ensuring adequate support and training for housing professionals.

To obtain accurate data on the prevalence of old heating technologies and the progress of renewable heating adoption in social housing, it is crucial to refer to government reports, research studies, and industry publications.

These sources provide up-to-date information and insights into the current state of social housing heating in the UK.

Social housing in the UK has made strides in adopting renewable heating systems, but challenges remain in phasing out old technologies like solid fuel, oil, LPG, and gas.

While the exact numbers of social housing units relying on these old technologies are not readily available, the transition to low-carbon heating is a pressing agenda.

Continued government support, financial incentives, and collaborative efforts are essential to accelerate the adoption of renewable heating and achieve a greener future for social housing in the UK.

In summary

It is crucial to recognize the positive impact that social housing providers have already made by embracing renewable heating systems. Their actions have not only contributed to reducing carbon emissions but have also set an example for other sectors to follow.

Sharing best practices and success stories can further inspire and encourage the wider adoption of renewable heating across the housing sector.

The journey towards decarbonizing social housing heating requires a multi-faceted approach.

This includes raising awareness among residents about the benefits of renewable heating, exploring innovative financing options to support system installations, and fostering partnerships between housing associations, energy agencies, and technology providers.

By addressing the challenges and seizing the opportunities, social housing can play a significant role in the overall energy transition of the UK.

Through continued collaboration and commitment, social housing providers can lead the way towards a sustainable and low-carbon future, ensuring that all residents have access to affordable, efficient, and environmentally friendly heating solutions.

Joe Bradbury Digital Editor of Housing Association magazine