Gas boilers using fossil fuels will not be banned from use in new build properties by 2023, despite a longer-term move towards lower carbon alternatives in the next 15 years.
The Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) said that the government’s recently unveiled ten-point Green Industrial Revolution plan had initially and “accidently” included a pledge to outlaw gas boilers in new homes from 2023. This commitment has since been retracted. It is presently expected that boilers using natural gas will currently be outlawed from new build homes in 2025.
CIPHE chief executive Kevin Wellman said that this pledge has been removed from the final document. Instead there is a commitment in the plans to set aside funds for introducing 600,000 heat pumps to homes each year from 2028, as well as to develop hydrogen production and supply capabilities for the purposes of heat.
The current Green Industrial Revolution said the UK is committed to a switch away from all use of fossil fuels in boilers within the next 15 years.
Mr Wellman said the ten-point plan continued to support the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive that would require all new developments in the UK to be nearly zero-energy buildings (NZEB) by 2021. This means that installers are able to install or retrofit boilers under the Boiler Plus Standard in England with a minimum ERP efficiency of 92 per cent.
Mr Wellman added, “Currently, the Future Home Standard is due to come into play from 2025 - though this could now be earlier - meaning that gas central heating appliances in all new build properties will be banned, and will therefore require an alternative heating source such as a heat pump or hydrogen powered boiler. “
“Existing properties will not be affected by the legislation and are expected to be able to use gas boilers for the foreseeable future. However, with the government's commitment to Net Zero by 2050, it's true that natural gas fired boilers are on borrowed time.”
It will now be vital for the government and industry to ensure there was sufficient infrastructure, skills and alternative heating technology in place to facilitate a move away from fossil fuels, particularly natural gas, CIPHE stated. This would not be possible by 2023 as things stand, according to Mr Wellman
He said, “The Hydrogen network is not due to be trialled at scale (in limited areas) until 2023 and heat pump production will need to increase significantly to reach demand.”
“Additionally, we need approximately 100,000 engineers trained to competently install the new technology. If we fail to adequately train engineers, the public and those working in the industry will be put at considerable risk.”
Mr Wellman noted that rapid technological change around heat was inevitable over the next decade with 600,000 heats pump required to be installed each year by 2028 alongside the expected conversion of the existing gas grid and gas boilers to support hydrogen.
This would in tur create a major training challenge for heating specialists.
He said, “Bodies such as the CIPHE are greatly involved in creating training courses and advising Government on making low carbon heating a reality. We will also play a big role in educating consumers about changes to regulations and standards.”
“Make no mistake, there is much work to be done. Investment in training and manufacturing will be crucial, as will clear and correct communications from government, but there will be opportunities for installers in an industry willing to adapt to change.”