Buildings are responsible for around 30 per cent of our national emissions and the Government has published its Heat and Buildings Strategy which signals a step change in improving the energy efficiency of buildings and how they are heated.
From 2035, all new heating system installed in UK homes will either use low-carbon technologies, such as electric heat pumps, or will support new technologies, such as hydrogen-ready boilers, where the Government is confident clean and green fuel can be supplied. In other words, by 2035 the Government has an ambition that no new gas boilers will be sold.
There are several alternatives to gas boilers already in existence, including heat pumps. A heat pump is a very efficient electrically-driven device that extracts heat from the air or ground and concentrates it to a higher temperature and delivers it elsewhere, for example to a central heating system. Therefore it has the potential to replace fossil fuel heating, such as a gas or oil boilers. In the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan, the Government announced that it will increase the installation of electric heat pumps from 30,000 per year to 600,000 per year by 2028, supporting up to 20,000 jobs by 2030. A new £60 million Heat Pump Ready Scheme will help the Government meet this target by providing funding for pioneering heat pump technologies.
Another possible green alternative is a hydrogen boiler. The Government is working with industry to examine the potential role of hydrogen in heating homes and workplaces. It would work in a similar way to gas boilers today but without any carbon emissions. The UK is already a world leader in hydrogen and the Government is investing £500 million in new hydrogen technologies. Prior to consulting on the role of ‘hydrogen ready’ appliances, the Government will assess the case for encouraging, or requiring, new gas boilers to be readily convertible to hydrogen, so-called ‘hydrogen-ready’ boilers, in preparation for any future conversion of the gas network.
The Hy4Heat programme has also supported the development of prototype ‘hydrogen-ready’ boilers, cookers and fires. As a result, two ‘hydrogen homes’ have opened to the public in Gateshead to give people an opportunity to experience a zero-emission gas-fuelled home of the future. In addition, there is the opportunity to interact with green technologies inside the showrooms and demonstrate to customers that they can have a choice about how they heat their homes sustainably in the future.
In addition, the Hydrogen Strategy confirmed that, dependent on the success of the heating trials and the information gathered, the Government aims to make a strategic decision on the future of hydrogen for heat in 2026. Ahead of this, and to help inform the decision, the Government will launch a trial ‘Hydrogen Village’.