The Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan represents a significant statement of intent, and while we welcome the commitments and ambitions, these will need to be backed up with detailed policy and further investment if the plan is to be fully realised. In the short term, the plan has also raised a few immediate questions and discussion points.
The heating industry has been carefully monitoring net-zero policy for some time now, and encouragingly a lot of what the plan covers builds upon established topics. For the new build residential market, this includes the Future Homes Standard, which intends to mandate low carbon heating and world-leading levels of energy efficiency.
When unveiled, the plan highlighted that the Future Homes Standard may be enacted in 2023, sooner than the 2025 deadline originally intended. The 2023 date was subsequently removed from official supporting documents, although it is expected that the ambition is still to bring this forward, subject to further industry consultation.
It is worth noting that the 2023 date should not be confused with existing buildings policy and gas boilers will not be “ripped out” of existing homes as claimed in some recent media coverage.
There are still of course the planned interim changes to Approved Documents L & F of the Building Regulations which could be enacted next year, in turn bringing SAP 10 into play. We can expect to learn more about these developments following the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) consultation response, which is due imminently.
For existing homes, the plan reaffirms how a mix of technologies, including heat pumps and hydrogen, will be needed for mass decarbonisation of the UK’s current housing stock. Baxi Heating welcomes this commitment to hydrogen, including a target of 5GW of hydrogen production capacity by 2030. The plan details how several trial projects dealing with hydrogen use in homes will be supported to this end, starting with a hydrogen neighbourhood, and scaling up to a hydrogen town with tens of thousands of properties by end of the decade.
The plan further details an ambitious target to grow the heat pump market to 600,000 installations per year by 2028. Baxi Heating recognises that this will require significant support schemes over and above those existing today in order to achieve this. It should also be acknowledged that as it is likely the 600,000 target will comprise predominantly new-build and off-gas grid homes, which leaves open the choice as to whether to pursue hydrogen, electric or a mixture of both for those properties reliant upon natural gas today. Time will tell exactly what this future mix of technology could look like.
Other commitments worth noting, include a one-year extension to the Green Homes Grant Scheme, which could become a success with some revisions around eligible measures and removing any barriers preventing uptake. The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) is also extended to 2026 giving a route for eligible households to access energy efficiency upgrades.
In terms of what is next, there are several important publications expected in the near future, which should help to further shape how the UK will set out to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. For the heating industry in particular, this includes the imminent Energy Whitepaper, BEIS Heat and Buildings Strategy and a UK Hydrogen Strategy.
Baxi Heating is committed to supporting the Government on this journey, and will continue to monitor developments with interest. With a number of ongoing projects in relation to hydrogen trials and investment, as well as our own company pledge to be carbon neutral in all our operations by 2030, and a commitment to ensure every product we make from 2025 will work with low carbon energy, Baxi Heating is committed to delivering low carbon solutions to homes and businesses.
For more information please visit www.baxiheating.co.uk/sustainability