The announcement of the £ 5,000 per household subsidy is part of a larger £ 3.9 billion funding program designed to help decarbonise the UK’s housing stock as part of the heat and buildings ”long awaited from the government.
UK homes account for over a fifth of all carbon dioxide emissions, with gas heating systems a major contributor. Boris Johnson’s administration is determined to get people to install low-carbon heating systems, which are more expensive than the traditional gas boilers that the British Prime Minister wants to phase out in the medium term.
Ministers will set a 2035 ‘target’ for all new heating systems installed in UK homes, either to use low-carbon technologies or to use low-carbon fuels such as hydrogen. But they will stop before announcing an outright “ban” on gas boilers in 14 years.
Environmental groups said the strategy was “inappropriate” to keep the public away from gas boilers, which heat more than 85% of homes. Mike Childs, Scientific Director of Friends of the Earth, said the grants would provide just 30,000 heat pumps per year, well below the government’s current target of 600,000 per year by 2028.
Greenpeace UK climate activist Caroline Jones said ministers “stopped short of what was needed to turn our homes into clean, affordable and energy efficient homes.”
Ministers want to help industry lower the cost of electric heat pumps, which typically sell for around £ 10,000. Octopus, one of the UK’s six largest energy companies, has announced plans to cut the cost to around £ 5,500 within a year and a half.
The government said the £ 5,000 grants would mean people installing a heat pump would pay a similar amount for a gas boiler. But the Energy Efficiency Infrastructure Group, a coalition of nonprofit organizations and businesses – including WWF, CBI and Eon UK – had previously calculated that a grant of £ 6,000 per household would be needed to install a heat pump.
The government is also launching a £ 60million innovation fund to help make clean heat systems smaller, easier to install and cheaper to operate.
Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said manufacturers are already making heat pumps more attractive to consumers and more affordable. “With our new grant program, we will ensure that people are able to choose a more effective alternative in the meantime. “
The government will also confirm that it will look for ways to shift various environmental levies from electricity bills to gas bills to encourage consumers to switch to electric heat pumps.
The overall package of £ 3.9 billion includes funds for four existing programs: £ 1.4 billion for the public sector decarbonization program; £ 950 million for the Home Upgrade Grant program; £ 800 million for the Social Housing Decarbonization Fund; and £ 338 million for the district heating network transformation program.
Opposition Labor said the funding fell short of the 2019 Tories’ election manifesto pledge to invest £ 9.2 billion in energy efficiency for homes, schools and the hospitals of this parliament.
The Conservative government has already pledged £ 3.8bn for the social housing decarbonization program and £ 2.5bn for the Home Modernization Grant in this legislature.
The announcements precede the release on Tuesday of a broader “net zero strategy” outlining the government’s plan to meet its strict 2050 net zero carbon target. The announcement is expected to include new funding for carbon capture storage projects.
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