Skip to content

Great debate 2022 - the future for residential heating

Event organised by ICE

16 March 2022

This event has now ended


The UK government has published its Heat and Buildings Strategy, a plan to replace fossil-fuelled heating like gas boilers with low-carbon technologies such as heat pumps. This is a comprehensive and groundbreaking strategy that flags a range of complex issues involved in solving a problem like decarbonising heat.

Natural gas boilers are seen as one of the biggest barriers to the net zero target — they produce 58.5 million tons of carbon dioxide a year, compared to 27 million cars emitting 56 million tons annually, the National Housing Federation says.

With a ban on new build natural gas fired domestic boilers not far off, there is considerable uncertainty about what will happen and what the best options are for individual circumstances. The aim of the legislation is to reduce emissions that are driving climate change but will it actually achieve this purpose? What is needed in the way of guidance and incentives to achieve the underlying objectives?

The aim of this year’s Great Debate event is to update the audience on these issues and to provide a forum for those attending to ask questions of the experts.

Professor Denise Morey from Oxford Brookes University will act as Moderator to chair the event, introduce the speakers and put questions to the panel. (Questions will come via the chat function and will be monitored by a team, grouped where appropriate, and fed to the Moderator)

The topics for the four presentations are as follows:

  1. Setting the scene – Dr Hannah Bloomfield

    Why are the changes happening and what it will all mean? How reliant are we on gas fueled system currently? Will the supply network become uneconomic or unstable as volume reduces? What might be the impact for other gas users?

  2. Electrical based alternatives – Professor Robert Gross, Director, UK Energy Research Centre

    What are the options using electricity as the energy source? This includes direct systems and also newer technology such as heat pumps. There are also options to use local generation such as solar panels and local storage to smooth demand levels.

  3. Hydrogen systems – Anthony Green, Hydrogen Director, National Grid

    To what extent could natural gas be replaced by hydrogen? Is a changeover of the existing supply system viable and what would be required? What would need to be done in individual homes and how would it be possible to ensure that this was done and safe before a changeover? Would it be more appropriate for district heating systems and should these be encouraged?

  4. Ensuring new build delivers carbon reductions - Professor Rajat Gupta, Professor of Sustainable Architecture and Climate Change & Director of the Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development (OISD)

    Modifying our existing housing stock is a major challenge but should we adopt new approaches for new houses to minimize carbon emissions in a sensible and sustainable way?

The event will follow the same format as previous Great Debates. There will be four 12 minute presentations on issues relevant to the future of domestic heating with the speakers then forming a panel to answer questions and respond to points made by the audience.


Professor Denise Morey

Professor Denise Morey

Oxford Brookes University

research lead and professor of mechanical engineering

Read more

Professor Denise Morey

Denise was the principal architect behind the development of the Motorsport Engineering programmes at Oxford Brookes University. In 2006, the success of these programmes was acknowledged by the Award of £ 2.1M of capital funding by the then South East of England Development Agency (SEEDA) to establish a Motorsport Engineering Centre at the Oxford Brookes Wheatley campus, and by the decision of Fernando Alonso to sponsor 12 MSc scholarships on an annual basis for Spanish Students to come and study on the Brookes MSc programmes in Motorsport Engineering.

Denise's research work in the past has mainly been in the areas of structural and vehicle dynamics, but more recently the focus has moved to the field of sustainable mobility and future of transport. She is now the Lead of the recently established High Voltage and Energy Storage Lab, alongside being Investigator of awards from a number of external bodies in the areas of Hydrogen as an alternative fuel, Tyre Dynamics for Motorsport, and Air Quality.

Dr Hannah Bloomfield

Dr Hannah Bloomfield

University of Bristol

research scientist

Read more

Dr Hannah Bloomfield

Dr Hannah Bloomfield is a research scientist at the University of Bristol, after eight years working at the University of Reading studying the impacts of climate variability and climate change on national-level power systems.

Hannah specialises in modelling UK and European electricity demand and renewable generation. She has also worked on developing these tools for Mexico and multiple regions of Africa.

A key outcome of her work has been to improve the accessibility of large meteorological datasets to non-specialists.

Professor Robert Gross

Professor Robert Gross

UK Energy Research Centre


Read more

Professor Robert Gross

Professor Gross has been involved with UKERC since its inception, leading the Technology and Policy Analysis theme and has published extensively on energy policy and technology.

He has wide-ranging research management expertise and has made a substantive contribution to UK energy policy development, acting as advisor to Select Committees, preparing reports and chairing committees for Government departments and non-departmental public bodies, and as a consultant.

He was seconded to the Cabinet Office in the early 2000s and contributed to the Blair Government Energy Review. Prior to his current role he was Director of the Centre for Energy Policy and Technology (ICEPT) at Imperial College London.

Dr Danielle Stewart

Dr Danielle Stewart

National Grid

hydrogen programme manager

Read more

Dr Danielle Stewart

Danielle is a chartered engineer, has a PhD in Particle Physics from the University of Warwick and is currently studying for an Executive MBA at Warwick Business School.

She is passionate about sustainability and after a period in academia she worked on a project involving solar panels, before joining National Grid where she has worked in Gas Transmission in a range of roles for over 10 years.

Danielle is currently Hydrogen Programme Manager, responsible for delivering National Grid’s long term business strategy and hydrogen programmes to help gas reach net zero by 2050.

Professor Rajat Gupta

Professor Rajat Gupta

Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development (OISD)


Read more

Professor Rajat Gupta

Professor Rajat Gupta holds a senior professorial chair in sustainable architecture and climate change in Oxford Brookes University. Rajat’s research interests lie in evaluating building performance from a socio-technical perspective, smart energy systems, local area energy mapping, scaling up energy retrofits, indoor air quality and overheating in care settings and homes.

Rajat has been academic lead on major interdisciplinary research projects that include evaluating the impacts of low carbon communities using action research, suburban neighbourhood adaptation for a changing climate, scaling up energy retrofits and smart storage and local sharing of solar electricity in a cluster of dwellings in Oxford.

Currently he is involved in multi-million pound research projects on radical decarbonisation of social housing dwellings, scaling up smart local energy systems and Project LEO – a smart local energy demonstrator in Oxfordshire.

For more information please contact:

Rose Creasey