The UK must make far faster progress on rolling out low-carbon heating across its homes if it is to hit its target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, energy experts have warned.
At current rates, it will take 700 years for the UK to move to low-carbon heating, as over 19,000 of the UK’s 29 million homes need to be upgraded per week to reach the 2050 target, the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) has said in a new report.
However, the government’s current proposals will see only 12,500 homes a year switched to low carbon heating solutions, while the proportion of homes heated by gas in the UK is in fact increasing due to most new build homes being connected to the gas grid, the centre found.
“UKERC research has highlighted that policy makers view heat decarbonisation technology options as both ‘disruptive’ and ‘uncertain’,” the centre’s latest report said. “If heat decarbonisation is to be achieved, progress is needed immediately.”
During the summer as part of its COVID-19 economic rescue measures, the government announced a £3 billion Green Homes Grant to help homes undergo energy efficiency improvements.
However, the UKERC has said that the scheme – currently only set to last until the end of March 2021 – will not be enough to dent the UK’s 2050 net zero target as a more sustained change is needed to how the UK’s homes are heated.
No new homes should be connected to the gas grid after 2025, while a greater focus on energy efficiency, district heating systems, and individual air source heat pumps will be required, the centre said.
This will require long term policy stability, strong regulation, and financial incentives for consumers to make the transition, the report recommended.
The publication of the UKERC’s report comes after the Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged last week that offshore wind will power and heat every home in the UK by 2030.
A government spokesperson said: “We are already taking comprehensive action to drive down emissions from heating on our path to net zero by 2050. [We have] launched the £2 billion Green Homes Grant, which will improve energy efficiency and support the installation of low carbon heating in 600,000 homes, supporting 100,000 jobs while driving down emissions.
“From 2025 all new homes will be required to have low carbon heating as standard. We are exploring how to make the gas network cleaner through the Green Gas Levy and have just announced plans for even more of our electricity will be provided by clean, green wind power.”