The future of oil and gas heating – Renewable energy alternativesMay 17, 2021
What improvements can we make to reduce the impact of carbon emissions from gas in the future?
It’s estimated that carbon dioxide from heating buildings is responsible for around 20% of the UK’s carbon emissions. This may come as a shock when diesel and petrol are commonly believed to be the chief culprits. We clearly need to make changes.
No one knows for sure which greener energy source will replace natural gas in heating buildings in the future, but we do know that in order to meet the zero emissions targets set by the government, we need to start working with alternatives to fossil fuels right now.
Our previous article focused on the future of gas but what are the alternatives?
Fuels of the future
The front-runners in the race to a greener energy future are heat pumps and hydrogen. From 2025, under the Future Homes Standard, the installation of natural gas boilers in new homes will be banned, so there’s already been a dramatic upturn in heat pumps installations, but what about older properties?
Heat pump systems transfer heat from the air or ground outside, to the inside. They run at much lower temperatures than traditional hot water heating systems, so to work effectively the buildings they heat must be very well insulated to minimise heat loss and keep things comfortable. This can be addressed easily enough in new properties, but represents a real challenge in older buildings where levels of insulation often fall far below current recommendations.
Retrofitting existing buildings is also very expensive. A recent report by the Committee on Climate Change calculates that it would cost an average of £26,000 to convert each UK home to run a low-carbon heating system. This being the case, it looks as though complete reliance on heat pumps isn’t the answer. They’re a smart option for new homes, but not necessarily for older ones how to reduce carbon emissions.
Hydrogen is another option. Studies across the country have shown that our existing infrastructure and boilers could be easily adapted to run on a lower carbon fuel such as hydrogen, so the cost implications are much lower.
When hydrogen burns, it produces water, not carbon dioxide, so harmful emissions are cut completely. Current trials using mixes of gas and hydrogen are running well, so it’s thought that there could be a gentle easing towards hydrogen alone over the next decade or so.
So where does this leave us?
It’s likely that the UK’s energy future is going to rely on a mixture of technologies.
The one thing that’s for sure is that we’re going to need an army of qualified installers to help us meet our energy commitments. There’s already a shortfall, so if you’re looking for a new rewarding career, strange as it may seem, training as a gas engineer could offer you job security and the opportunity to keep abreast with changes in energy provision in the UK for the future. Here’s how.
The heating and hot water systems of most UK homes currently run on gas boilers so despite the commitment to move over to more low-carbon fuel sources in future, we need newly qualified gas engineers who are up with the latest developments, to maintain and repair gas boilers during the years of transition.
Training for the future to reduce carbon emissions
We deliver LCL Awards qualifications, which are designed to keep abreast with technological developments and are regularly reviewed to ensure they deliver the most up to date training.
When there’s a more substantial switch over to hydrogen, experienced gas engineers will be perfectly positioned to undertake the adaptation of millions of natural gas boilers across the country, with the appropriate up-skilling.
The heat pump industry believes that experienced gas engineers have the necessary transferable skills to take on the mass installation of heat pumps that the government’s drive to increase the UK’s housing stock is calling for. Again, targeted training is all that’s required to ensure the safe and effective installation of heat pumps.
Please get in touch with us to discuss the your future training plans and to find out more about our Managed Learning Programme for new entrants to the gas industry, please click here.
If you’re already a qualified gas installer and would like to find out more about our heat pump qualifications, please click here.