Further policy measures needed before UK gas heating ban, report finds

26th March 2019

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Nigel Setchfield

The UK government should consider additional policy measures before pushing ahead with its ban on gas heating if households are to avoid soaring energy bills.

That is according to analysis from Cambridge Econometrics, which recommends that all new homes be fitted with heat pumps or similar systems with low running costs.

The consultancy firm also warned that customers could be put off more efficient gas boilers if they are gradually being phased out thanks to the government's proposed 2025 ban.

However, it described the implementation date as “sensible“ because it gives companies enough time to become familiar with and develop new technologies to meet demand.

The ban was announced in chancellor Philip Hammond's Spring Statement as part of a 'Future Homes Standard' to ensure all new houses have low-carbon heating and “world-leading“ energy efficiency.

“This announcement is an important first step in decarbonising household heating, however, policymakers need to consider additional measures,“ Cambridge Econometrics head of modelling, Hector Pollitt, said.

“Our analysis shows gas will be around for some time due to the long lifetime of heating systems. Householders may need to be incentivised to switch to less carbon intensive options.“

The research also shows that, under the current plans, displaced gas would be replaced mainly with standard electric systems, and that the share of heat pumps in the overall mix changes only slightly.

Cambridge Econometrics warned that the electricity grid would struggle to cope in its present form, and that more investment could be needed to cover peak-time demand.

“There are questions around the capacity for the grid to cope with peak-time demand so reform may be needed there,“ Pollitt continued.

“Finally, we shouldn't forget that improvements in efficiency can lead to significant rewards both in terms of lower heating bills and increased energy efficiency.“

Image credit: iStock


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