Birmingham Strikes Gold for Green: Uni Wins £20M to Decarbonize Home Heating

Photo by Billy Joachim

The University of Birmingham has been awarded £20 million ($24 million) by the British government to establish a new National Centre for the Decarbonisation of Heat (NCDH), which aims to develop solutions for transitioning homes to low-carbon heating.

The funding, announced this week by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, will support the creation of the center at the University of Birmingham’s Tyseley Energy Park. The park is located in east Birmingham, an area with high levels of fuel poverty that has been prioritized for investment.

The NCDH will bring together industry, government and academic partners to coordinate research and develop new technologies to decarbonize Britain’s 28 million homes, most of which still rely on high-carbon systems for heating and hot water. Achieving this transition is considered the most complex challenge in reaching the country’s net zero emissions target.

“The NCDH will allow key stakeholders to work together to accelerate the net zero transition with the benefit of creating economic growth and jobs,” said Professor Martin Freer, director of the university’s Birmingham Energy Institute, which will oversee the new center.

The NCDH aims to drive innovation in low-carbon heating technology, establish training programs, incubate new businesses and create living laboratories to test solutions. It will build on policy recommendations from two recent reports led by the university that called for greater coordination in decarbonizing heat.

Andy Street, the mayor of the West Midlands region that includes Birmingham, welcomed the funding. “A key part of this is going to be the decarbonisation of homes, and the work at the NCDH shows how our region is at the cutting edge of this innovation,” he said.

With billions needed to upgrade Britain’s drafty, aging housing stock, the NCDH hopes to rapidly scale up the deployment of technologies like heat pumps and district heating networks and to influence the development of national policy.

“The Birmingham Energy Institute is already carrying out vital work for the future of clean energy, and to now have the NCDH alongside this, Tyseley Energy Park will become a powerhouse for the net zero transition and economic growth,” Professor Freer said.

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