All: Waking the Sleeping Giant

Next Generation Policy Instruments for Renewable Heating & Cooling in Commercial Buildings (RES-H-NEXT)

Renewable heating and cooling (RES-H/C) is the sleeping giant of renewable energy. Across the globe, it is estimated that thermal energy comprises approximately 50% of total global final energy demand (across the residential, commercial and industrial sectors). The majority of heat demand in buildings – over three quarters – is served by fossil fuels or traditional biomass. Modern (high efficiency, low emission) renewables are estimated to serve only 10% of thermal energy demand.

This report focuses on the commercial building sector, a significant user of thermal energy, especially in OECD countries. A number of country-level analyses make clear that the commercial building sector is a significant source of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions (e.g. 18% in the UK), due to the heating and cooling load of buildings. It is furthermore expected that commercial building sector and energy use will increase in the future, with the IEA estimating that the floor area of commercial buildings will almost triple by 2050 and the World Energy Outlook estimating that commercial building energy demand will be the fastest growing energy sector.

Addressing heating and cooling in the commercial sector will be necessary to achieve a renewable energy transformation, and many analyses estimate that it will not be possible to achieve long-term climate, security, and energy goals without increasing the use of RES-H/C.

The RES-H-NEXT report can be viewed in its entirety here. A summary of the report can be viewed here.