Electric heat pumps can fail to “heat the house properly”: British lawmakers

Electric heat pumps, a key element of the UK government’s plans to reach Net Zero’s climate goals, may not be able to “heat properly” homes if they are not well insulated, Parliamentary Commission said. Suggests.

The UK Climate Change Commission (CCC) predicts that by 2050, all heating in UK homes will be provided by low carbon sources, 52% of which will be heat pumps.

In November 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced plans to install 600,000 heat pumps each year by 2028.

But in that latest report (pdfThe House of Commons’ Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee, announced on February 3, acknowledged that there are some potential problems with plans to replace existing gas boilers with heat pumps.

“There was clear evidence that properties need to be upgraded to the right level of energy efficiency for low-carbon heating equipment to work effectively and to properly heat homes,” the report said.

The Commission said that failure to address concerns could lead to “scheme failures.”

“If people are encouraged to switch to low-carbon heat sources without knowledge or incentives for energy efficiency upgrades, the scheme will fail and public confidence will be lost unless the new low-carbon heat source heats the house to the desired temperature. There is a risk. Insulation, “the report said.

Labor exchange Darren Jones, who chairs the committee, said the replacement of gas boilers was “a big job and hasn’t made enough progress.”

“Today’s invoice payers are deeply worried about energy costs because many people can’t afford to warm their homes. Most people need to replace their gas boilers within the next 10 to 15 years. I’m not aware that there is, “he said.

To further complicate matters, the high cost of installing and operating a heat pump.

Replacing a gas boiler with a heat pump can cost as much as £ 15,000-20,000 ($ 20,000-27,000), but a government boiler replacement grant is only worth £ 5,000-6,000 ($ 7,000- $ 8,000).

“As part of Net Zero’s objectives, asking households to pay an additional fee of £ 10,000 or more to replace existing home heating that is functioning perfectly is a major challenge,” the report said. Admits.

The Commission also noted that environmental taxes hinder the switch to electric low-carbon heating solutions such as heat pumps because “running costs are higher than gas boilers.”

Another emission reduction strategy under consideration by the UK Government is to mix hydrogen with existing gas supplies.

Last year, the government worked with the industry to “assess the safety, technical feasibility, and cost-effectiveness of mixing 20% ​​hydrogen with existing gas supplies.”

However, according to an analysis by the German research institute Fraunhofer IEE, these plans could boost household energy prices by 16% and industrial end users by 43%.

The UK Board of Audit (NAO) said the government’s commitment to achieve net zero by 2050 in December 2020 is a “huge challenge” that can cost hundreds of billions of pounds. Said.

Lily Zhou and PA Media contributed to this report.

Alexander Chan