Government considering 2035 ‘ban’ on home gas boilers
The government appears ready to set an end date for gas boiler sales in the UK, backed by a number of policy options, to encourage an increase in heat pump systems over the next 15 years as ministers continue to grapple with one of the issues most politically charged issues on the way to net zero emissions.
Several media reports this morning indicated that ahead of the much-anticipated heat and buildings strategy, ministers are currently advocating a 2035 ban on installing new gas boilers, which would give industry and consumers 14 years to prepare for more environmentally friendly heating alternatives.
A consultation on the plan is expected shortly, with a number of policy ideas being circulated to encourage the move away from gas boilers, including obliging homeowners to switch to heat pumps or hydrogen heating when selling or renovating their property.
Some reports suggested that the new rules could be backed by threats of fines for homeowners who do not switch to low-carbon alternatives to boilers. However, sources told the Daily Mail that such penalties are unlikely to be part of the heat and buildings strategy if it is published.
Boiler manufacturers, however, could meet the requirements to sell a minimum number of heat pumps alongside boilers in the coming years, supported by an additional surcharge for new gas boiler systems to finance the introduction of heat pumps, the newspaper reported.
The government has set a goal of installing 600,000 heat pumps per year in the UK by 2028. This is a significant increase from the estimated 30,000 currently being introduced each year. However, the market continues to be hampered by relatively low consumer awareness and high up-front costs. The cost of installing a new heat pump is often £ 10,000, significantly more than a new boiler.
Therefore, decarbonizing the heating of homes and buildings remains one of the UK’s biggest net zero challenges as the vast majority of businesses rely on fossil fuels for heating and cooking. Official government advisers, the Climate Change Committee, have repeatedly warned that fossil fuel heating will need to be largely replaced with environmentally friendly alternatives over the next two decades if Britain is to stay on track to meet its climate targets.
Earlier this month, the International Energy Agency announced that gas boilers should be banned worldwide on average by 2025 in order to move to a net-zero energy system. That date was endorsed earlier this week by the UK’s largest corporate lobby group, the CBI. Only hydrogen-enabled boilers or heat pumps are allowed to be sold in the UK within four years. The CCC has also recommended that from 2025 only boilers that can be operated with hydrogen will be sold and installed.
The UK has already set a date for banning gas heating in new homes built from 2025, although reports in The Sun suggest the government is now trying to bring that date forward two years to 2023, a significant win for Green would mean proponents of building.
However, the move to boilers from the UK’s 25 million existing households now estimated to be used for heating and cooking is likely to be politically burdened, partly due to the significant cost of installing heat pumps or switching the gas network for low carbon hydrogen.
However, according to the Daily Mail, switching from boilers to hydrogen instead of gas is unlikely to be a solution for more than 10 percent of households as green or low-carbon hydrogen production is restricted, suggesting the government believes in heat Pumps are likely to dominate the low-carbon heating market.
The government is reportedly unlikely to push for an exit date for gas boiler systems within the current decade amid fears that voters and some MPs could spark a backlash.