Poorer households risk being left behind in the race to decarbonise homes. For many households experiencing energy poverty — where a household is unable to access or afford sufficient energy services to meet its needs — their prescription has been a gas boiler. Energy poverty programmes in the UK have relied heavily on providing efficient gas boilers, in some cases converting direct electric heating or installing new gas heating systems, to reduce energy costs and warm up homes. Pilot programmes have even seen doctors “prescribe a boiler” by referring households into an energy poverty programme. Gas regulation also supports new connections to the gas grid for low-income households through a commitment to spread the cost across other users to avoid charging the low-income household. Like a pill prescribed for your pain, connection to gas is relatively cheap, proven, available — when publicly funded — and provides immediate relief in terms of lower bills and warmer homes. But, like medication, reliance on gas in the long term, and the difficulty in getting off gas, poses a huge risk. Route maps to decarbonisation point out that the future of domestic heat is electric or district. Government incentives and clean heat programmes encourage better-off households to move away from gas to renewable heating systems. But we have to ask ourselves if we are leaving low-income households behind in the energy transition and locking them into dependence on gas that leads to high costs or uncertainty? At what point does prescribing a gas boiler do more long-term harm than good?
Foresight Climate and Energy 15th July 2020 read more »
Decarbonising heating is essential to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, but the UK Government is still hesitating about which path to take, writes James Murray. Heating accounts for more than a third of the UK’s CO2 emissions, with 85% of homes heated by natural gas and just 5% using low-carbon alternatives. Although proposals to decarbonise heating are not in short supply, the UK Government has yet to make any firm decisions about which pathways it prefers. Moving away from gas boilers to heat pumps is one solution. “If you burn gas in your boiler, you emit 205 grams of CO2-equivalent per kilowatt-hour,” says Jan Rosenow, director of European programmes at the Regulatory Assistance Project, a think tank dedicated to the clean energy transition. “Over the past decade, gas used to be quite clean compared to electricity, but now electricity has become so clean because of all the renewables, [that] using electricity makes a lot more sense than gas.”
Power Technology 14th July 2020 read more »
Less than 2% of the heat pumps needed to decarbonise the UK’s homes are currently being installed by the government. For the UK to meet its net zero by 2050 target, at least 12 million homes across England alone will need to be retrofitted with heat pumps and energy efficiency measures, such as insulation, according to think tank IPPR. In a new report, it argues that the government must establish a comprehensive Home Improvement Plan to drive decarbonisation. This should include an investment fund to help provide grants covering at least 50% of the cost of the retrofit.
Current News 15th July 2020 read more »
The UK Government has been urged to implement a Home Improvement Plan to facilitate more than £5bn in annual spending to improve the energy efficiency of the UK’s housing stock to contribute to the net-zero target for 2050. A new report from thinktank IPPR has claimed that a minimum of 12 million homes in England alone will need to be fitted with energy efficient heat pumps, insulation and other measures between now and 2050.
Edie 15th July 2020 read more »