UK: In a bitter sweet announcement, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has proposed a relaxation of the gas boiler phase-out but increased the grant available under the boiler upgrade scheme.
The PM delayed the ban on new fossil fuel heating for off-gas-grid homes until 2035 and suggested exemptions for some households and types of property.
“We recognise that there are a number of properties for whom this [heat pumps] just won’t make sense with the technology and what we know today,” he said.
However, as a sweetener, he raised the funding available under the boiler upgrade scheme from £5,000 to £7,500.
The CEO of ground-source heat pump company Kensa, Dr Matthew Trewhella, described the news as “extremely concerning”.
Commenting on the announcement, which had been leaked 24-hours previously, he said: “At a time when we should be scaling up to reach our net zero commitments by injecting investment and stability into green businesses and proven sustainable solutions, our planet’s future is being cynically used as a political bargaining tool.”
He explained that British businesses have been innovating, investing, building supply chains and creating green jobs based on the UK’s net zero transition strategy. In May, Kensa announced a £70m investment to scale up its business development, operations and R&D efforts to help drive the transition to low carbon heating and cooling.
“We are making excellent progress towards our vision of a subsidy-free, low carbon heating and cooling future that is greener, cheaper and safer than fossil fuel heating. Stalling this progress would be shortsighted, regressive and deprive the British economy of the billions of pounds of benefits that transitioning to net zero would bring. It will negatively affect consumers by keeping bills higher and homes less efficient. Delaying our transition to net zero in 2050 means future measures will need to be quicker and more drastic.”
The standards organisation MCS welcomed the government announcement of an increase to the boiler upgrade scheme.
“Making it easier and more affordable for the average UK consumer to transition to low-carbon heating is vital if we are to reach our national decarbonisation goals,” said MCS CEO Ian Rippin.
“More people will now have the confidence and ability to invest in low-carbon heating and this is an important step forward towards net zero.”
However, like Kensa, the MCS was far from happy with the changes to the gas boiler phase out.
“It is disappointing to see a delay in the deadline to phase out new gas boilers by 2035. The most important element of helping consumers make the right, informed, green choice is clarity and moving the goalposts now risks confusing home and business owners about what the right thing to do is,” Rippin said.