Heat and buildings strategy: Ramboll's response

21 October 2021
Guy Milligan - Energy Strategy & Planning specialist at Ramboll, responds to the governments anticipated 'Heat and buildings strategy'.

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Guy Milligan, Ramboll

Guy Milligan

Associate, Energy Strategy & Planning
T: 07583 107 816

This strategy sets out how the UK will decarbonise homes, commercial, industrial and public sector buildings, as part of setting a path to net zero by 2050.

Key commitments in the strategy include:

  • an intention to phase out the installation of new natural gas boilers from 2035;
  • setting an ambition for industry to reduce the costs of installing a heat pump by at least 25-50% by 2025 and to ensure heat pumps are no more expensive to buy and run than gas boilers by 2030;
  • ensuring all new buildings in England are ready for Net Zero from 2025.

Ramboll's response to the strategy

Guy Milligan, Energy Strategy & Planning specialist responds: 

"Rather than a Boiler ‘Upgrade’ Scheme, surely the Government should be calling this a Boiler ‘Replacement’ scheme?

This may be intended to soften the introduction for homeowners, but will only serve to make it more complex further down the line. A £450 million pot and £5,000 per home is a start, but we also need to see consideration of the whole life cost of a heat pump and a commitment to developing the supporting infrastructure that will ensure this switch doesn’t end up costing consumers and delivers the energy savings promised.
 
Heat pumps operate most efficiently when a building has a high energy performance, but most UK buildings fall well below the standard required, so homeowners will also need to spend on measures such as double or triple glazed windows, improved wall and roof insulation and larger heat emitters like underfloor heating. Without this the heat pump will require a higher level of electrical input that simply means higher energy bills, and electricity has recently been three times the price of gas.

If this strategy is to succeed then alongside encouraging heat pump adoption Ministers must commit to reducing the price of electricity by shifting levies away from electricity to gas – market intervention is essential.
 
Ultimately we’ll have to see the details of the new grant scheme and see how the market responds, since there is no obligation to replace a gas boiler until 2035, which seems a long way off. The Government must ensure these new heating systems – yes, heat pumps but also district heating systems and green gas – are sustainably introduced for the long-term, and not just to meet temporary targets."

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