UK heating industry tells Business Secretary it’s “time to get serious” with net zero homes

5th Dec 2022


Leading energy trade body, the Energy and Utilities Alliance (EUA), has today written to the Business Secretary, Grant Shapps MP, suggesting it was time to conduct full village trials for heat pumps. In his call, the Chief Executive, Mike Foster, said it was “time to get serious on net zero homes” and explore all the options available in more detail.

Currently the gas networks are examining the option of hydrogen villages, exploring how homes can be converted from mains gas to hydrogen. Another option being considered by the department Mr Shapps runs is to convert homes from mains gas to heat pumps.

Examining how a whole village is converted will study the housing infrastructure; the possible heating options available for each home; the likely reinforcement costs of the electricity network something that Minister Graham Stuart has recently spoken about, and finally how consumers view the change. Other heat pump trials, spread over the whole country, simply don’t do what is needed.

Mr Foster has already identified a source of funding for the trial, all within current expenditure levels.

Mr Foster said:

“Consumers cannot stay on natural gas forever. Whether they like it or not, the government will shift them onto either hydrogen or a heat pump. What government has yet to do is examine the impact in a specific location, of a wholesale switch to heat pumps. They are doing it for hydrogen, quite rightly, and they need to do it for heat pumps too.”

“It is the only way for a thorough assessment of the housing stock to be undertaken – house by house for a whole community. That way, the heat pump industry can show what it can do and what it can’t. Then government can see what is needed to fill the gaps.”

“One of the most important factors that needs to be addressed is the reinforcement of the power networks. They need to be able to cope with peak winter heat demand, so actually having a real world example for reference will be so important for decision-makers. They can find out, warts and all, what the costs of this policy will be for the customer.”

“Such a concentrated trial would also address the concerns expressed by organisations such as the Institute of Acoustics, who are concerned about the noise impact of a series of heat pumps all working at the same time, not just the isolated one.”

“The customer also needs to become aware of the choice facing the whole UK population. They can’t carry on using natural gas and the government will either say use hydrogen or fit a heat pump. It’s time to get real about net zero homes and tell consumers how it is.”

“The good thing about a heat pump village trial is that the funding can come from within existing BEIS budgets. There is going to be a huge underspend from the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, which is only a modest success. Rather than give the cash back to the Treasury, why not conduct a heat pump village trial?”