The government’s ambitious targets for 2050, which include generating 80% of energy through renewables, are under threat say the Royal Academy of Engineers. The verdict was given on the government’s failure to reduce gas heating in 85% of UK households.

The academy says there needs to be an effort to reduce the reliance of natural gas boilers, in order to make homes more environmentally friendly. Switching to renewable energy sources will help improve the efficiency of buildings and cut carbon emissions.

Home heating contributes to 40% of Britain’s energy usage and a quarter of CO2 emissions are released domestically. These figures show renewable energy has an important role to play in home heating, which could include solar thermal panels and heat pumps.

But the government has plans ready to combat home heating in the UK, with the Coalition’s flagship programme the Green Deal and the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). Despite both schemes, which are set to launch later this year, the academy’s report suggests they might not be ambitious enough.

Doug King, principal at engineering consultancy King Shaw Associates and co-author of the report, said: “The Green Deal as a proposal is a good start, [but] there definitely needs to be more work to get it right so when it is implemented it has the right focus of appropriate measures and provides appropriately skilled installers.”

In the report were recommendations for nationwide programmes supporting biomass, solar thermal systems and district heating. Renewable energy has been promoted in the UK substantially over the last few years, but only in terms of electricity replacements.

Addressing this, the report detailed that simply electrifying homes with renewable energy sources would require ‘a level of installed capacity that would be almost impossible to build’. Instead, the government has been urged to broaden its renewable energy horizons by promoting biomass and other heating options as much as solar panels and wind turbines.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change are focusing on generating 15% of the country’s energy through renewables by 2020. Ministers then want that figure to reach 80% by 2050.

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