Heat pump industry figures have welcomed a report by the Committee on Climate Change which recommends a ban on gas boilers in new build properties by 2025.
The report, UK housing: Fit for the future?, warns that the UK’s legally-binding climate change targets will not be met without the near-complete elimination of greenhouse gas emissions from UK buildings.
Graham Hazell, consultant to the HPA, will be giving evidence to the House of Commons Science & Technology Committee at Westminster on 26 February on this subject. The discussion forms part of the committee’s inquiry into technologies for meeting clean growth emissions reductions targets, and will be available to view live on Parliament TV.
NIBE Energy Systems, meabwhile, says the findings within the report reflect its own recently published policy paper: Heating our homes – a policy pathway to developing a viable heat pump market. The paper, published in January and shared with the CCC, highlighted the importance of tackling housing emissions at the earliest opportunity, starting with new builds. The CCC report reflects that in its affirmation that “by 2025 at the latest, no new homes should be connected to the gas grid.” Instead, all new homes should be future-proofed, avoiding expensive retrofits down the line and reducing emissions as a direct result.
The report firstly highlights the important role of ensuring high thermal efficiency standards of homes. To minimise the impact of our new homes, it is essential that they are built to high standards and that energy demand is reduced regardless of the heating system installed. This delivers not only carbon savings but also improved comfort and health benefits. The Committee on Climate Change note that ultra-high energy efficiency standards could help to reduce the energy demand associated with the widespread uptake of heat pumps in the UK.
Phil Hurley, NIBE Energy Systems managing director said “It’s great to see our recommendations reflected in the Committee on Climate Change’s UK Housing report. We are delighted to be acknowledged for our contribution and we look forward to continuing to work with the Committee over the coming months. With plans to build 1.5 million new UK homes by 2022, it is essential that these homes are built to be low carbon, energy efficient and climate resilient. Heat pumps will play a significant role in our energy future and this report published today sets out a series of important recommendations for Government to enable the low carbon transition.”
Further support comes from ground source manufacturer and installer Kensa Group. CEO Simon Lomax said: “We wholly embrace the CCC’s call for urgent action and would hope the government would look to introduce this requirement before 2025. The report identified a skills gap, but the knowledge and technology is already here and is deploying at scale in more challenging retrofit applications.
Kensa recently installed England’s largest residential ground source heat pump installation at eight high-rise tower blocks owned by the London Borough of Enfield. This project featured the shared ground loop array infrastructure which effectively takes the place of the gas network and serves an individual heat pump and hot water cylinder installed inside each dwelling.
Mr Lomax added: “Government has delayed the introduction of any effective regulations that will encourage the deployment of heat pumps in new build housing. Thankfully, the Greater London Authority (GLA) has lost its patience and now requires planning applicants to base their energy strategies on the forthcoming carbon intensity factors proposed for the next generation of SAP, the software that demonstrates compliance with building regulations. As a result, London will lead the way.
‘”For fast-track projects, shared ground loop installations qualify for subsidy support via the Non Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive, which runs until Spring 2021. Beyond that, it is likely that entities will emerge to fund, own and maintain the ground arrays in return for an annual connection fee so any developer can sidestep the cost burden. This will ensure that more efficient, reliable and durable ground source heat pumps will cost no more than air source heat pumps. In time, more innovative models will emerge which sell energy as a service for a fixed fee to any householder; a ground source heat pump is perfectly suited to this innovation.”
The report also says insulation levels must be significantly increased in current homes if heat pumps are to be deployed at scale to existing housing stock, blaming the stalled uptake of insulation as a major contributing factor to the increase in household emissions last year. However Kensa questions the committee’s suggestion that insulation is a pre-requisite before a heat pump installation.
Dr Matthew Trewhella, managing director of Kensa Contracting, said: “The vast majority of Kensa Contracting’s large-scale retrofit works are in social properties with an EPC rating of D or lower. Delta-E, in its December 2018 study into the Technical Feasibility of Electric Heating in Rural Off-Gas Grid Dwellings, reported that, ‘based on average peak winter day temperatures, around 84% of homes can be electrified at their current level of insulation. This increases to around 93% if all suitable homes have loft & wall insulation installed’. Whilst we strongly encourage the roll out of insulation to reduce household emissions, this should not be seen as a requirement before the retrofit of a ground source heat pump.”