22 July 2020
A new Heat Commission convened by the CBI and University of Birmingham - with leading industry figures - has called on the Government to ban the installation of conventional gas boilers in homes from 2025.
Heat is the largest single source of UK carbon emissions, accounting for over one-third. Half of this comes from domestic buildings, the majority of which are heated by natural gas boilers.
Net Zero: The Road to Low-Carbon Heat also recommends that substantial acceleration in decarbonising heat in buildings and industrial processes is needed. The Commission proposes that the Government focuses on rapidly stimulating business investment in new technologies and phasing out all fossil fuel heating systems by 2050.
As the UK grapples with the twin challenges of recovering from the pandemic and accelerating progress towards the UK’s net-zero target, the Commission’s new report outlines a series of practical recommendations to decarbonise heat, improve energy efficiency and promote transition to low carbon technologies, while delivering overall benefits to the whole economy.
The full report is available at: https://www.cbi.org.uk/articles/net-zero-the-road-to-low-carbon-heat/
CBI President and Heat Commission Chair, Lord Karan Bilimoria, said:
“A green recovery and progress towards the UK’s net-zero emission target are doomed to fail if we don’t address the urgent need to decarbonise the heat in our homes and buildings.
“Recent Government announcements will undoubtedly fast-forward our transition towards net-zero. The Commission’s recommendations offer a roadmap to accelerate progress, ensure our nation stays on a path to sustainable recovery and ensures the UK remains a global leader in meeting climate commitments.
“Aside from the moral imperative, there’s also a strong economic case for protecting our planet. Large scale heat decarbonisation and energy efficiency would provide a huge jobs boost for the economy at a time when new career opportunities are needed more than ever.”
Key Commission recommendations include:
- From 2025, conventional natural gas boilers should no longer be installed in people’s homes, with alternatives such as heat pumps, hybrid systems, and hydrogen-ready boilers being installed instead (1).
- To ensure the UK is on track to meet net-zero emissions by 2050, all new heating installations will need to be zero-carbon by 2035, by then only net-zero compatible technologies like air source or ground source heat pumps, hydrogen boilers or heat networks should be deployed.
- Prioritising energy efficiency to prepare for the roll-out of a nationwide heat infrastructure upgrade that will support new jobs and skills opportunities.
- A national energy efficiency programme is needed to successful deliver low-carbon heat. This will build on the welcome funding announced by the Chancellor this month through the Green Homes Grant and help create new jobs and training opportunities in the wake of the crisis.
- Establish a time-limited ‘Olympics-style’ national delivery body to lead the development and implementation of a national heat decarbonisation strategy, which can be delivered by relevant government departments and co-ordinates at both a regional and local level.
- Priorities include decarbonising transport and industrial emissions reduction, decentralising electricity supplies and support local energy plans devised by local authorities.
Professor Martin Freer, University of Birmingham, said:
"Delivering decarbonisation of heating is the biggest energy challenge we face in getting to net-zero. Unlike electricity, which can be changed at a systems level, it requires over 20 million households to adopt new energy efficiency measures and new ways of generating heat.
“There is not a single technology choice and the scale-up required in skills, manufacturing, distribution infrastructure and consumer engagement is huge. The level of coordination to deliver this needs to reach from the regional to national, with appropriate resource being devolved to the local level to be successful. The level of complexity and the urgency for change means the transition cannot be left to chance and a national delivery body is essential."
Notes to Editors
(1) On Estimated Costs
Cost predictions are falling fast and current suggestions from industry indicate that a hydrogen-ready boiler could cost an extra £50-100 for the consumer, when compared to the equivalent natural gas boiler in the early years of the roll-out. Due to the rapid development of this new technology, it is understandable that specific costs have not yet been finalised by industry. As more people adopt the technology, the cost is expected to reduce to the same as a natural gas boiler.