Heating industry expert Ian Henderson is calling on the government to adopt a pragmatic approach to achieving its net zero target following a report calling for a 2025 ban on all domestic gas boilers.
The UK has already ruled that no new homes built after 2025 can be fitted with a gas boiler – but the latest proposal would extend the ban to all properties.
The report, by the Confederation of British Industry and University of Birmingham, says homes should instead be warmed by low carbon hybrid or hydrogen-ready systems.
By 2035 it says only net-zero compatible technologies like air source or ground source heat pumps, hydrogen burning boilers or heat networks should be deployed if the UK is to hit its net-zero carbon emissions target by 2050.
Ian Henderson, managing director of Cramlington-based Boiler Plan, said that while the industry accepts the need to decarbonise and is working hard to advance such technologies, they are not yet sufficiently developed to serve the needs of a mass market.
He said: “Simply drawing a line in the sand and saying that from 2025 all gas boilers should be banned will not magically create a viable and practical alternative.
“While modern gas boilers are highly efficient, they will be phased out as part of the transition to a zero-carbon future, but alternative sources of heating may not be ready by 2035, let alone 2025.”
He added that while there are many benefits to heat pumps, which take energy from the ground, air or water, installation costs can range from £8,000 to £45,000, while biomass and solar thermal are also expensive to install and are not suitable for every home.
Meanwhile, hydrogen boilers have been championed as the green replacement for fossil fuels but are some way from large scale adoption.
Ian Henderson added “If the UK is to move away from gas boilers to home heating technologies such as air source heat pumps which rely on electricity to power them, then the government needs to ensure that over 90 percent of our energy comes from renewable sources and the cost per KW of electricity in the home is greatly reduced.
“Gas currently costs around 3p per Kw whilst electricity costs around 14p per kw. Air source heat pumps are around 50 percent more efficient that gas boilers under real conditions making the cost to generate heat in the home more than two times more expensive with an air source heat pump over a high efficiency gas boiler”
“The government must invest in low and zero carbon heating technologies as well as ensuring the UK’s housing stock is energy efficient – if many more people are not to be left disadvantaged by being plunged into fuel poverty.”