Homeowners in England and Wales will be offered subsidies of £5,000 from April to help them replace old gas boilers with low-carbon heat pumps.

Grants are part the government’s strategy for reducing carbon emissions from heating homes, and other buildings.

No new gas boilers will be sold after 2035, and there is £3.9bn of new funding to decarbonise heating, including in social housing.

However, experts claim that funding for the project is not sufficient and it’s too ambitious.

The UK’s greenhouse gas emissions from heating buildings are large. They account for 21% of total emissions. There is therefore pressure to reduce them through the Heat and Buildings Strategy.

This comes at a time when the government is preparing to present its overall strategy for the UK’s reduction in dependence on fossil fuels as well as achieving sharp cuts in its emissions over the next few decades.

Kwasi Kwarteng, Business and Energy Secretary, said that grants for heat pump adoption, which are available starting next April, will play an important role by helping to lower the price of this relatively new technology until 2030.

Currently an air source heat pump costs between £6,000 and £18,000, depending on the sort you install and the size of your home.

Kwarteng stated that low-carbon heating systems would become more affordable as technology advances and prices drop over the next 10 years.

We will make it possible for people to select a better alternative through our grant program.”

Although homeowners will be encouraged by the government to get a heat-pump or another low carbon technology when they need to replace their existing boilers, there are no requirements to eliminate boilers that still work, according to the government.

Heat pumps are able to extract heat from air, ground or water. It works in reverse, a little like a refrigerator.

Because they are powered with electricity, you can have greener heating if your electricity comes from a low carbon source.

One energy firm, Octopus Energy, said initially it expected homeowners would contribute around £2,500 to the cost of installing a heat pump, roughly equivalent to the cost of a new gas boiler. This would pay the remainder of the cost.

However, many homes will need to be upgraded in order to improve their energy efficiency and insulation before they can be installed.

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The bulk of the £3.9bn funding will be invested in decarbonising public buildings, insulating and installing new heating systems in social housing and for those on low incomes, and helping to provide clean heating networks for homes that aren’t suitable for heat pumps.

The following funding is spread out over the next three year:

  • £450m for the scheme to subsidise heat pumps and other low-carbon systems in place of gas boilers
  • £3.45bn to decarbonise buildings in England and Wales including social housing and district heating schemes
  • £60m to drive technological innovation to develop clean heating systems that are smaller, easier to install and cheaper to run. It will be funded by an already announced innovation fund.

Jonny Marshall (senior economist, Resolution Foundation), a think-tank focusing on poverty said the strategy was “a welcome beginning” but didn’t go far enough.

He stated that the 90,000. heat pumps this scheme will fund is still far below the 450,000 heat pumps recommended by the Climate Change Committee. This was to ensure the UK remains on the right track to reduce its carbon emissions by half by 2035.

E3G, an independent climate think tank, stated that the setting of the date to phase out new fossil fuel boilers is “a world-leading accomplishment” and that the promise to lower heat pump prices by 2030 was welcome.

Pedro Guertler, the programme leader said that funding wasn’t sufficient to reach the government’s goal of reducing carbon emissions.

“On energy efficiency alone, public investment announced today falls £2bn short of what was pledged in the Conservative manifesto to 2025,” he said.

In all there would need to be a further £9.75bn invested over the next three years, he said, to meet ambitious commitments on reducing emissions.

He said, “It is challenging but necessary. It’s achievable. And a great investment in people, jobs and skills.

Ed Miliband MP, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary, described the strategy as “meagre, unambitious and wholly inadequate”, adding that Labour had pledged to spend £6bn a year on insulation and low carbon heating.

Liberal Democrats called the Heating Plan “a punch in the teeth” for the families facing high energy bills this winter.

It is yet another piece of Boris Johnson’s climate-calming jigsaw.

He first introduces a global-leading policy to stop the sale of petrol vehicles by 2030.

He now proposes a ban of gas boilers in 2035. Another trend-setting initiative, which other nations will undoubtedly follow.

But there’s one problem. The PM already has a pledge to reduce emissions by 78% by 2020, which is in the middle decade.

According to energy experts, that won’t be possible unless the President offers more incentives to people to insulate their homes or to get heat pumps to replace their gas boilers.

One group of researchers estimates that to meet his net zero targets he needs to invest nearly another £10bn over three years.

They are hopeful that the Chancellor will complete the puzzle in his next week’s spending review.

The new strategy was welcomed by industry sources.

A larger group of UK business owners, The Confederation of British Industry (Confederation of British Industry), stated that this strategy would assist members in preparing for changes.

Matthew Fell is the chief policy director of the CBI. He said the event provided “a golden opportunity” for both public and private sectors to accelerate progress toward net zero.

He called for “a clear plan of delivery for local authorities, consumers and businesses”.

ScottishPower’s Chief Executive Keith Anderson claimed that the company would increase demand for electric heating. “This will allow the industry to accelerate electrification delivery and rapidly bring down upfront cost.”

Phil Hurley is the Chair of Heat Pump Association. He stated it would boost the industry’s confidence and allow them to train more people in order for the mass rollout.

Joanne Wade of the Association for Decentralised Energy expressed disappointment that “nothing was done to further support supply chains in order to build skills, and de-risk entry for smaller businesses”.

Source: BBC.com

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