A heat network provides heating and hot water to an apartment, commercial site or series of buildings close together. It can also provide cooling. There is interest in using them to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from UK buildings. This POSTnote looks at the technology of heat networks and their sources of heat. It looks at considerations when building new networks. It also outlines a potential future market framework.

In November 2021 the UK will host COP26, the UN climate summit that will be vital for international efforts to respond to climate change. POST is inviting anyone with expertise in areas relating to COP26 to provide feedback. We would like to know what you think the UK Parliament and Government’s priorities should be while preparing for and delivering COP26. Findings from our survey will feed into an inquiry. Those who respond to the survey will be entered onto a database of experts who may be contacted by parliamentary staff, MPs or Peers, in order to help them scrutinise government preparations for COP26 over the next 16 months.

Marine renewables are technologies that generate electricity from tide and wave motion. They produce electricity without greenhouse gases, and could provide economic benefits for the UK. However, the technologies have been slow to develop, despite previous projections of growth. This POSTnote examines the causes of this delay and how the sector might develop.

  • POSTnote

    According to global climate and economic models, removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere will be necessary to limit global warming to 1.5˚C. Among Greenhouse Gas Removal (GGR) techniques, these models assume that Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) could play a prominent role. This POSTnote summarises why BECCS has been included in the models, outlines the challenges and trade-offs of deploying at scale, and considers policy options for supporting its development.

  • POSTnote

    Aviation has a growing impact on climate change, as demand for air travel increases globally. This POSTnote examines options for mitigating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from aviation, including new technologies, demand reduction and emissions offsetting. It also outlines UK and global policy frameworks for implementing measures to do so. 

  • POSTbrief

    This document builds on POST's previous publication, Topics of Interest 2018 (POSTbrief 27). The subjects are listed under under six category headings based on the drivers of change identified in POSTnote 500: demographic change and healthcare; social and cultural trends; geopolitical and governance challenges; environmental pressures and climate change; resource security and sustainability; and technological advance.

  • POSTnote

    UK power generation from wind has increased in recent years due to sharp reductions in the costs of constructing and operating wind power facilities. Onshore wind power provides the cheapest electricity of any form of new generation built, and offshore is expected to continue to reduce in cost. Generating wind power does not emit greenhouse gases, hence future growth will help the UK meet its GHG emissions reduction targets. This POSTnote examines the innovations that have enabled wind power cost reductions, associated policy considerations and challenges for future deployment.

  • POSTnote

    Under the Paris Agreement, almost all governments worldwide have agreed to collectively limit global warming to 'well below' 2°C above pre-industrial temperatures, and to 'pursue efforts' to limit this warming to 1.5°C. However, there has been 1°C of warming to date, and current international pledges could result in 3°C or more. A 2018 UN Special Report examined how peak global warming could be limited to 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures, and the implications of doing so. This POSTnote outlines key messages from the UN Special Report, and UK responses to preventing and adapting to climate change.

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    The electricity system of Great Britain is becoming increasingly decentralised, with more complex patterns of power production, transportation and consumption. New types of ‘flexibility’ are being developed to facilitate and manage these changes. This POSTnote reviews ways of developing flexibility, as well as technical and economic barriers to doing so.

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    There is growing UK and international interest in using ‘small modular nuclear reactors’ (SMRs) to generate electricity, and the UK Government announced a number of measures to support SMR development in the 2018 Nuclear Sector Deal. Stakeholders suggest that, compared with conventional nuclear reactors, SMRs could offer cost savings to operators and consumers, more flexible energy production and a greater choice of potential sites. This note examines key aspects of SMR technology, their economics and regulation.

  • POSTnote

    Electricity markets in the UK, Ireland and continental Europe are physically linked by ‘interconnector’ cables. These benefit energy system operators and consumers by reducing prices. They can also help integrate renewable electricity and ensure security of supply. This note discusses these benefits, proposals for future increases in interconnection and the potential effects of Brexit.

  • POSTbrief

    This list sets out the topic areas identified of possible parliamentary interest under the 9 different category headings (Agriculture, Fisheries, Food and Forestry, Crime, Defence, Education and Skills, Energy, Environment, Health, ICT and Robotics and Transport and Infrastructure).

  • POSTnote

    The burning of natural gas for heating contributes 14% of the UK’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Decarbonising, or reducing the carbon content of the UK gas supply is one option for reducing the emissions from heating. This POSTnote looks at the contribution that two alternative gases, hydrogen and biomethane, could make in achieving this goal.