Clean Growth Strategy tackles high carbon heating

The heating industry has reacted to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s recently announced proposals for decarbonising all sectors of the UK economy. The Clean Growth Strategy is a blueprint for how the country can benefit from low carbon opportunities, detailing a host of new initiatives, from carbon capture to low carbon heat.

The strategy proposes that all homes will be band ‘C’ by 2035, and also references other policy changes such as Heat in Buildings. This suggests changes to the Building Regulations, including that combi boilers should not only have a minimum efficiency of 92% ErP, but also be installed alongside a time and temperature control, as well as one of four additional measures: a flue gas heat recovery system, weather compensation, load compensation, or automation and optimisation controls.

The Government also intends to phase out the use of heating oil to heat buildings and domestic hot water during the 2020s, in both domestic and non-domestic heating systems.

Hailing the report’s recommendations for reducing carbon in heating off-grid homes, Lee Gannon, MD at LPG supplier Flogas Britain, says: “We see this as exciting news for the industry. LPG is the lowest carbon conventional off-grid fuel available today, and it has a crucial role to play in turning the Clean Growth Strategy’s vision into a reality. Put simply, LPG is a cleaner, cost-effective alternative to the likes of coal and oil – emitting 35% less carbon than coal, and 12% less than oil. We look forward to working to make the Clean Growth Strategy the success that it deserves to be.”

Speaking for OFTEC, CEO Paul Rose says its own plans to reduce carbon in off grid homes are in accord with the Government’s strategy: “Our approach would see a boiler replacement programme in the short term – 2018-2022 – followed by the introduction of a low carbon liquid fuel as a direct replacement for kerosene. This timescale ties in with the Government’s ambition to ‘phase out the installation of high carbon fossil fuel heating in new and existing off gas grid residential buildings during the 2020s’.”

The Heat Pump Association sees the new strategy as a fillip to the heat pump market. The HPA points out that the details are not yet clear, but views the proposals as the Government’s positive signal of intent that could see an uptake in heat pumps in the UK. President Mike Nankivell says: “This momentous announcement is vital to assist in cleaning up the emissions from heating systems. It demonstrates clear intent by the Government to seriously tackle the issue of relatively high carbon emissions from heating systems using oil as the predominant fuel, and should act as a precursor to other fossil fuels which produce relatively high emissions.”

Heat pump manufacturer NIBE Energy Systems also welcomes the Clean Growth Strategy and has issued a policy paper with recommendations to drive renewable systems forward. MD Phil Hurley says: “It is evident that the UK heat pump market is not achieving its full potential and this needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. By targeting off grid areas to remove oil systems, the Government can make homes warmer and more comfortable whilst reducing our reliance on polluting fuels. I see no reason why this can’t be attained with cohesive thinking and strategy between manufacturers, installers and government.”

While most organisations are encouraged by the Government’s plans, some are concerned about the lack of detail. Speaking for Worcester, Neil Schofield, Head of Government Affairs, says: “This is the beginning of a move to phase out oil heating. This needs very careful handling, because oil is a significantly cheaper option compared to electricity, and off-grid homes could be faced with a very significant rise in their energy bills. With off mains gas properties generally being difficult to heat, we may even find ourselves using more carbon – since a poorly performing heat pump run from fossil fuelled electricity is unquestionably worse than a high efficiency oil-fired boiler.

“The heating supply chain, from manufacturers through to installers, is going to need a lot of reassurance over how these schemes are going to be implemented, and also that the Government is in it for the long haul.”

The Solar Trade Association views the Clean Growth Strategy as falling short, as it offers limited opportunities for solar power. STA Chair Jonathan Selwyn says: Solar power is transforming global energy systems.  Until this year, the UK was at the vanguard of this movement.  It therefore beggars belief that the Government’s strategy almost totally ignores solar power – the most popular and cost-effective means of driving the UK’s energy transformation.  We call on the Government to shake off its blinkers and provide a level playing field for all energy technologies to ensure the solar industry, consumers, local people and the environment get a fair deal.

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