An article published in HPM magazine article on 19th April has caused a bit of a stir, stating that ‘from 2020 gas boilers cannot be installed in new build properties’. We were surprised and the HHIC has come back to say this is not the case.
There’s no need for gas engineers to panic, gas is currently the primary source of heating in around 85% of our homes.
Altenative sources of energy are being explored, but a complete overhaul of domestic heating systems would not be practical – the costs would be too prohibitive.
The focus of government at the moment is a move away from high-carbon fuels, like coal and oil.
Gas boilers in existing properties can be used for as long as they work, but when they need replacing, they must be updated with a more energy efficient model, or householders may wish to consider other more sustainable methods of heating.
If hydrogen takes off (more details below) the existing gas infrastructure will undergo minimal changes.
Future Framework for Heat in Buildings
In a recent document, ‘A Future Framework for Heat in Buildings’, the government sets out its commitment to reduce the use of high-carbon fuels in favour of less harmful alternatives and Minister for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Claire Perry says, of the plans:
“This is an ambitious change to the way millions of people heat their homes and businesses and presents a significant market opportunity.
“Our heating industry must retain its position as a world leader, seeing this process as an opportunity to lead the change that is necessary, and not let the world change without it.”
The gas industry is getting very excited about Hydrogen, which is more environmentally-friendly than natural gas because it produces only water and heat when burnt.
The idea is getting support from government and industry as the new gas mixes, combining natural gas and hydrogen, would produce much lower emission rates and be able to utilise existing heating systems as well as our current gas infrastructure, with relatively little adaptation.
This makes the idea far more viable, both financially and practically.
The engineering and design company, Arup, is currently leading a UK government study, called the Hydrogen for Heat Programme.
Commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) the project is exploring the practicalities of using zero-carbon gas in both domestic and commercial environments and covers the development and manufacture of new technologies for heating and cooking.
The project, expected to run until March 2021, will explore public attitudes to changing to hydrogen and lead ultimately, it is hoped, to a pilot project in a village or small town.
There are other studies and tests being done in the north of England to assess the potential.
Assuming feasibility and safety studies are positive, Liverpool and Manchester will be the testbed for an ambitious £600m project by Cadent, which currently runs gas connections to half of the homes in the UK.
Throughout the 2020s hydrogen will replace a percentage of the methane in pipelines leading to homes across the region, with no major adjustment to current boiler equipment or stoves necessary.
A similar scheme is planned for Leeds where Hydrogen would be made in a series of ‘steam methane reformer’ plants around the city.
Essentially, carbon would be removed from methane and disposed of using carbon capture and storage technology.
An estimated £2 billion is required to make Leeds a “hydrogen city” by 2025-30.
Although they are relatively costly to install, heat pumps are among the few technologies capable of meeting the expectations of consistent heating quality and cost-efficiency with low running costs and minimal maintenance requirements.
It is hoped that developers will be encouraged to embrace the change when the government’s plans to relax rules on third party ownership of renewable technologies eligible for the Renewable Heat incentive come into effect shortly.
Soon, developers will in effect be able to ‘own’ the heat pumps they install on the properties they build and receive the RHI tariff of 10.18p/kWh for a seven-year period, thereby offsetting the initial cost of the installation.
Developments in heat pump technology mean that heat pump hybrids are now becoming a viable option for retrofits.
Boiler manufacturers, including Worcester, Valiant and Daikin have developed hybrids that combine ASHP technology with a gas condensing boiler.
These appliances are super-efficient and with smart programming, can help save up to 35% more energy than a traditional condensing boiler.
Providing a good deal of flexibility and controllability, the hybrid automatically determines the most economically and energy efficient way to produce heat – based on energy prices, outdoor temperatures and indoor heat capacity.
These clever systems could prove to be excellent replacements for old or current gas boilers as they can be easily integrated with the pipework and radiators in existing heating systems, making them a practical and economical solution for many.
Gas installers are well-positioned to embrace the future of these innovative technologies.
Building on existing skills and experience, they will be able to position themselves at the forefront of a heating revolution.
Want to know more about the ‘future’ download our Future Proof Installer guide here.
Logic4training runs a Level 3 Heat Pump Systems course which will enable experienced domestic heating installers to add another skill to their portfolio. This four-day course meets the training entry requirements for the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). For more information, click here