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Ban gas boilers from 2025 to meet zero carbon goals, experts say

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The Government should ban the installation of new conventional gas boilers from 2025 to lower the UK’s carbon emissions, experts have said.

The Heat Commission - a collaboration between the CBI, the University of Birmingham and industry figures - said that decarbonisation of the UK’s heating systems is essential if the country is to meet its carbon targets.

The body said that heat production accounts for over one-third of UK carbon emissions, half of which comes from domestic buildings.

But with the majority of these still being heated with natural gas boilers, the commission has not only called for a ban on these outdated technologies, but also investment in new technologies and the phase out of all fossil fuel heating systems by 2050.

They join calls from experts earlier this month to undertake a massive home heat efficiency programme in order to lift the UK out of its coronavirus-induced economic slump.

In its report, the Commission has also said that investing in low carbon technologies will deliver economic benefits to the UK.

CBI President and Heat Commission Chair, Lord Karan Bilimoria, said: “A green recovery and progress towards the UK’s net-zero emission target are doomed to fail if we don’t address the urgent need to decarbonise the heat in our homes and buildings.”

“Recent Government announcements will undoubtedly fast-forward our transition towards net-zero. The Commission’s recommendations offer a roadmap to accelerate progress, ensure our nation stays on a path to sustainable recovery and ensures the UK remains a global leader in meeting climate commitments,” he continued. “Aside from the moral imperative, there’s also a strong economic case for protecting our planet. Large scale heat decarbonisation and energy efficiency would provide a huge jobs boost for the economy at a time when new career opportunities are needed more than ever.”

The Commission recommends that from 2025, installation of conventional natural gas boilers should be banned in favour of alternatives such as heat pumps, hybrid systems, and hydrogen-ready boilers.

It added that the UK will need to make sure all new heating installations are zero-carbon by 2035 or it will fail to meet its 2050 zero carbon goal.

Professor Martin Freer, University of Birmingham, said: “Delivering decarbonisation of heating is the biggest energy challenge we face in getting to net-zero. Unlike electricity, which can be changed at a systems level, it requires over 20 million households to adopt new energy efficiency measures and new ways of generating heat.”

“There is not a single technology choice and the scale-up required in skills, manufacturing, distribution infrastructure and consumer engagement is huge.”

“The level of coordination to deliver this needs to reach from the regional to national, with appropriate resource being devolved to the local level to be successful. The level of complexity and the urgency for change means the transition cannot be left to chance and a national delivery body is essential.”

Current estimations from the industry indicate that a hydrogen-ready boiler could cost an extra £50-100 for the consumer, when compared to the equivalent natural gas boiler in the early years of the roll-out.

But as more people adopt the technology, the cost is expected to reduce to the same as a natural gas boiler.

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