Report: UK's domestic heat 'extremely unlikely' to reach net-zero without policy overhaul
Some 10 million homes will need to have their fossil fuel heating systems replaced by 2035 if the UK is to meet its net-zero target – but the rate of government-supported upgrades is just one-fifth of this level, a new policy briefing has concluded.
Produced by experts at the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC), the briefing paper warns that “significant” changes to the nations domestic heat policy framework will need to be made in the early 2020s, if the sector is to align with the long-term net-zero target.
It outlines how a record 1.67 million gas boilers were installed in British homes during 2019, with installation rates up almost 2% year-on-year. The Future Homes Standard will prohibit housebuilders from fitting properties with gas infrastructure from 2025. But the Conservative government has promised to ensure that 300,000 new homes are created each year – meaning that, if this commitment is met, 1.5 million new homes will be locked into the gas grid.
The Government’s current solution for decarbonising domestic heating is its Clean Heat Grant – the replacement scheme for the Renewable Heating Incentive (RHI). But the policy briefing outlines how, in its current form, the Grant will only support 12,500 homes per year to switch to low-carbon heating. This falls far short of the level needed, stated as a little under one million homes per year.
While noting that the Green Homes Grant is not included in its forecast and praising BEIS and The Treasury for launching the scheme, the UKERC concludes that tackling emissions from domestic heat will require more than a one-off investment.