The Heat and Buildings Strategy has been a long-awaited announcement from the Government on their efforts to tackle carbon emissions caused by both domestic and commercial buildings in the UK.
Calor appreciates the steps that the Government has made to address decarbonisation and the target of 2050 in which to achieve it, and there’s no doubt that this announcement is a real step in the right direction in helping the UK to unite and lower their carbon emissions.
And this is a direction that we’re fully behind. As an organisation, Calor is already moving the UK towards more sustainable energy solutions and has a vision to offer all our customers 100 per cent renewable energy solutions by 2040 as part of our efforts to help decarbonise the UK.
We already offer BioLPG – a drop-in replacement for conventional LPG – which is made from sustainably sourced materials and can reduce emissions by up to 38% compared to oil. Furthermore, we also have alternative, sustainable fuels currently in development to help the UK meet its decarbonisation target.
The direction of travel in the Heat and Building Strategy is positive, but also poses some potential challenges to those living or working in rural locations.
With the Government advocating a ‘heat pump first’ approach for rural properties, they may have underestimated the number of homes that aren’t eligible to have a heat pump due to age of property, building fabric, or electricity network constraints. Additional low carbon heating options are desperately needed for the 100,000s of hard-to-treat homes and businesses in off grid areas.
For those homes classed as ‘hard to treat’; older, less thermally efficient buildings in rural areas, installers understand the individual needs of their customers best and are able to make recommendations on the best heating solution; be that heat pumps, LPG or in fact hybrid systems that move towards a greener solution whilst meeting the heating needs of customers. We know that a ‘one size fits all’ approach to heat pumps may prove difficult, especially when you take into the account the various intricacies and requirements of each home in the UK – not every one of them is ready and insulated well enough for a heat pump to simply be installed. For many homes the cost of improving energy efficiency for a heat pump to be effective can be prohibitive, with little financial support available to households and landlords.
By focusing on the smaller, more remote communities of those off the gas grid – around two million homes – and not targeting all ‘heat pump ready’ homes the government may struggle to meet its ambition of 600,000 heat pump installs per year by 2028. There’s also the potential risk we don’t see a real step-change in the mindset of both homeowners and businesses, compared to implementing the strategy across both off grid and mains gas buildings in unison – a total of nearly 28 million homes.
The Government has committed to a fund of nearly £4 billion to help decarbonise buildings; offering grants to those off the mains gas grid to help them switch to more sustainable heating practices. This is a real demonstration of the UK Government’s commitment to delivering on its ambitious but achievable target.
However, limiting choice of sustainable energy sources for homeowners could impact the Government’s potential success rate of the new strategy. Rural first could mean less uptake compared to a nationwide roll-out of the strategy that encompasses both rural buildings and those on mains gas.
With all of these challenges and changes on the horizon it’s important installers are supported as the adjustments to the heating industry start to take shape. That’s why Calor is looking to ramp up its training over the next year, to educate installers on LPG, BioLPG, and hybrid heat pumps how the energy landscape will develop and how this may affect the work they do for their customers.
Decarbonising the UK is no easy task but in the future a mix of standalone boiler, hybrid systems paired with more sustainable energy sources, such as BioLPG, will provide the UK with a vital way of lowering its carbon emissions for some of our hardest to treat homes.