The installation of new gas boilers in UK homes must be banned from 2025 if the UK is to hit its target of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, an industry commission has warned.
Conventional gas boilers should no longer be installed, with alternatives such as heat pumps, hybrid systems and hydrogen-ready boilers being installed instead, says the Heat Commission, convened by the CBI and the University of Birmingham.
The commission, which has developed its recommendations in collaboration with energy industry leaders, adds that all new heating installations should be zero-carbon by 2035 to ensure the UK is on track to meet its 2050 net-zero target.
CBI president and Heat Commission chair, Lord Karan Bilimoria, said: “A green recovery and progress towards the UK’s net-zero emission target are doomed to fail if we don’t address the urgent need to decarbonise the heat in our homes and buildings.
“Aside from the moral imperative, there’s also a strong economic case for protecting our planet. Large scale heat decarbonisation and energy efficiency would provide a huge jobs boost for the economy at a time when new career opportunities are needed more than ever.”
The commission’s report, Net Zero: The Road to Low-Carbon Heat, challenges the government’s current policy which is to ban gas boilers from 2025 only in newly built homes.
Heat is the largest single source of UK carbon emissions, making up over one-third of the country’s total, with half of this coming from domestic buildings.
According to the Committee on Climate Change, only around one million of the UK’s 27 million homes currently have low-carbon heat.
Professor Martin Freer of the University of Birmingham said: “Delivering decarbonisation of heating is the biggest energy challenge we face in getting to net-zero. Unlike electricity, which can be changed at a systems level, it requires over 20 million households to adopt new energy efficiency measures and new ways of generating heat.”
The commission’s report also recommends that the government prioritises energy efficiency policies to prepare for the roll-out of a nationwide heat infrastructure upgrade.
A national energy efficiency programme would support new jobs and build on recent government announcements such as the £2 billion Green Homes Grant, it says.
Any national heat decarbonisation strategy should look to further decentralise electricity supplies and support local energy plans devised by local authorities, such as heat networks, it adds.
Tracy Harrison, chief executive of the Northern Housing Consortium, commented: “The CBI are right to say that decarbonising heat will be key to the transition to net zero. They have set out an ambitious road-map – this will be challenging to deliver, but government can support the sector to accelerate progress by releasing the promised £3.8 billion Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund.
“Retrofitting the North’s homes will create jobs and cut emissions now: this is a real win-win opportunity to deliver on government priorities around levelling-up and reaching net zero.”