Where do I start?

25th Feb 2019

 

I have a confession to make, some weeks I struggle to write my blog, not certain if there is anything to comment on. This isn’t one of those weeks. The under-fire Climate Change Committee released a report into UK housing that warrants attention.

Now let me be absolutely clear, here at EUA we totally understand the need to decarbonise to meet our international obligations and do our bit to save the planet from the catastrophic impact of climate change. But that doesn’t mean we have to agree with the Committee on how to get there.

The report, published last week, contains much of what we agree with. The need to act now, the desire to build new homes to high environmental standards and the range of areas that need to be considered, from air quality to over-heating and yes, to decarbonising heat.

It is on this topic that I reserve my criticisms. The Committee say no new houses should be connected to the gas grid after 2025, suggesting electric or heat networks will deliver the heat load. They suggest that new homes should be built with low temperature heat systems in mind so that “renewable” technology can be applied without an expensive retrofit. They also advocate the benefits of hybrid heating systems and of the potential for hydrogen gas boilers.

Now the observant amongst you will immediately see the contradictions.

Homes can be just as easily connected to the gas grid, use low carbon gas in low temperature heat scenarios and then offer a choice. If hydrogen or biomethane can be delivered in the volumes needed, it’s job done. If not, switching to alternatives is still a low-cost retrofit possibility. And yes, you are right, hybrids use both an electric heat pump and a gas boiler, so you need a gas connection.

The report (as always) is prejudiced. Biased towards heat pumps with an assumption that all electricity is “renewable”. We know that isn’t a given, desirable, absolutely but not certain. I say prejudiced because I suspect the Committee can’t accept they made a huge mistake years ago advocating all-electric heat. Their default is still that but they realise the evidence and the public simply aren’t buying it – literally.

 Best wishes

Mike Foster, CEO