Goverment Heat And Building Strategy

Goverment Heat and Building strategy 2021.

21/10/2021

So last tuesday the goverment roled out their Heat and Building Strategy. This saw the introduction of a lot of major dates and time frames and we want to help our customers to understand a little bit more about what this means for them and understand exactly what will be happening over the next 30 years. Most shocking of all was the media interpretation of it all with many channels misinterpreting the rules to suit their agenda and we thought we would clarify everything we have read in the Heat and building strategy. We have tried to break it down in to bitesize chunks to help you decide what the best option is for heating your home for the foreseeable future. See the full report by clicking here.

Heat and Building strategy

Gas boilers will be banned from 2035!

This is simply not true and what they actually said is that the “INSTALLATION” of new “GAS” boilers will be banned from 2035 and given that any new gas boiler has a lifespan of at least 15 years, It will be 2050 before they will ban gas boilers outright. However as we are all too aware, these dates can change and we all like to make the most of our purchases so it is always good to make enquiries into the future of heating your home. One of the key points that sticked out in the Heat and building strategy for me was the following passage which was not mentioned on any of the news coverage:

“No-one will be forced to remove their existing boilers. Instead, we will grow the market for heat pumps through incentivising early adopters through Boiler Upgrade Scheme grants”

Also a massive key point in the strategy was the fact that the goverment undertsand the costs involved and are trying to help bring the costs down:

“Setting a clear ambition for industry to reduce the costs of installing a heat pump by at least 25-50% by 2025”

With the current installation cost of a heat pump being around £12,000, we agree with a lot of the arguments around the £5,000 grants not being sufficient enough to bring the cost down sufficiently as in their own words (as above) the costs need to be around 50% less then they are at the moment. Also these grants will require most older homes to be insulated and re piped so this cost could be a lot more depending on the current insulation levels of your home.

Will heat pumps be the only way to heat your home?

Quite simply, no. In the Heat and building strategy was a clear strategy for hydrogen and building a hydrogen ready network:

“We will support industry to conduct first-of-a-kind 100% hydrogen heating trials, including a neighbourhood trial by 2023 and a village scale trial by 2025.”

However it did also recognise that our current hydrogen supply is generated using fossil fuels and a lot of work would be required to make this 100% carbon neutral:

“To deliver the level of hydrogen needed to meet Net Zero, the UK is committed to a ‘twin track’ approach, with initial production mostly expected through:
• steam methane reformation with carbon capture – sometimes referred to as ‘blue
hydrogen’
• electrolysis (predominantly powered by renewables) – sometimes called ‘green
hydrogen’ “

There was also a timeline set for us installers to be able to learn about this new technology and within 4 years we can start to train on hydrogen:

All gas installers (registered with Gas Safe) would require additional training. Estimated demand timeline (according to CITB)140
• 1-4 years: existing gas installers will be able to retrain, with an additional 200 FTE per year on average

The goverment are looking to pioneer the Hydrogen market and the UK will be one of the first countries to introduce hydrogen on a large scale:

“Countries are developing sector strategies for hydrogen. If the UK pioneers the use of hydrogen for heating buildings, other countries may follow, creating new markets which
could benefit from the UK’s hydrogen products and expertise. For example, Worcester Bosch177 and Baxi178 have both developed prototype hydrogen boilers in the UK,
supported by BEIS’s Hy4Heat programme.”

The main thing to consider is that hydrogen is in such an early stage and there really is no rush to change anything quite yet, even if you really have to replace your gas boiler, you will see your new boiler last at least another 15 years. There will be more announcements in April next year to introduce and educate everyone on the future of existing boilers and hydrogen generation as well as using hydrogen to heat the home. You can see the full Uk Hydrogen strategy by following this link.

Heat and Building strategy

How will Hydrogen boilers work?

Unfortunately we just dont know. Hydrogen rules and regulations are still being written and 100% hydrogen boilers are still being tested. The plan is to simply change a couple parts and then the white box on the wall will look absolutely no different from the outside. However the experiments currently being run are purposefully built 100% hydrogen boilers only. Following the succesful completion of this trial, they will then trial the conversion of gas boilers to hydrogen boilers.

Is hydrogen a volatile fuel that is dangerous?

Yes it is an extremely volatile gas, however it is very similar in properties to LPG and there will be many trials before it is roled out nationwide. We believe (although still unkown) that hydrogen will go in to the boiler at a very low pressure which will reduce the danger, just like natural gas boilers do at the moment. There will also be electronic sensors rather then the current electrodes that will pick up flame failure in milliseconds to prevent any type of danger and the whole system will be designed in much the same way as natural gas is now to prevent any type of danger.

So what should I do?

I wouldnt recommend doing anything right now. There are so many new technologies and along with the announcement this week, the goverment also formed a lot of new groups that will investigate and create new technology. This is a great example of exactly where we are with all this technology. There are so many new ideas, but they are just ideas at the moment and the next few years will see massive changes. Your current boiler will not be banned until at least 2050 and so you have many many years to see what the future holds.

If your boiler was to break down tommorow then it really is a matter of looking at your budget. With a new boiler costing around £2-3k and a heat pump costing £12k (£7k with the goverment grant). It really depends what is in your budget and then if you do decide to go to heat pumps then ensure you get the right type of system for your home. A site survey should be completed to work out the heat loss of your home along with the insulation levels and there should be some pipework changes also required. Any installer that does not give you these details will not be doing it correctly and you will end up removing it next year due to being too cold.

Where can I find clearer information about the Heat and building strategy?

There are the links above and also Worcester bosch have created this homeowners guide to explain a lot more about the future of home heating.

So what next for the Heat and Building strategy?

The next big announcement is planned for April 2022, I believe this will be an introduction into Hydrogen. I personally dont feel that hydrogen experiments will be completed by then but this will be an introduction into the possibilities of hydrogen. However with the introduction of the heat pump grants at the same time, this would be a great time to enquire with your local heat pump installer to find out exactly what would be required to get your home ready for heat pumps. You would then be able to find out the costs and implications of installing a heat pump and decide what is best for you.

Does J & S Plumbing and Heating do Heat pumps?

Currently we do not supply or install heat pumps, mainly because we have not had the time to train on them. We have created this blog to help people along the way and also document our own journey into renewables. Without a doubt we need to reduce our carbon output but we also understand that our customers don’t want to spend thousands of pounds on heating their home if they can avoid it. At the moment heat pumps still use electric which is created by fossil fuels (even though heat pumps can give an output of up to 4kw for every 1 kw input) and so the environmental benefits do not outweigh the installation and running costs. However we are taking this journey along with yourselves and do not pretend to know everything about this new emerging technology. We would however welcome all comments and training available to further our knowledge.

Conclusion

Hopefully we have brought you a small insight into the new rules and guidance that has been set out by the government. There is still a long way to go and a whole lot of learning to be done but the journey will be exciting and should bring a lot of different challenges along the way. The heat and building strategy is extensive and will take several months before we truly understand the extent of what is being proposed but we are looking forward to seeing what the future holds and feel this is a lot better then the previous announcements made that gave no insights in to exactly how we will meet our 2050 carbon neutral target.

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