Decarbonising Britain’s Homes–Or Not!
By Paul Homewood
I ran an article last year about decarbonising UK homes. Put simply, for the UK to hit its targets for reducing CO2 emissions, it needs to drastically reduce the use of fossil fuels, used in heating homes, as well as in electricity generation.
According to DECC, the Dept of Energy & Climate Change:-
Heat is the single biggest reason we use energy. Today the vast majority of our heat is produced by burning fossil fuels (around 80% from gas alone) and, as a result, heat is responsible for around a third of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Last year’s post, which I am rerunning below, listed some of the problems that the government faced in addressing this issue. At that time, the government admitted that, apart from making a few marginal contributions such as better insulation, it had no concrete proposals. They did, however, point to a new strategy document, called “Strategic Framework for Heat”, which they would be publishing later in the year.
Well, it’s out, and does not seem to have moved the debate forward much at all. This is made abundantly clear in their Executive Summary, which concludes:-
In order to achieve this level of change, the heat challenge for the UK is threefold:
• the Government will need to understand the physical, technical, sustainable and practical means by which we can decarbonise heat across the UK, and work with industry, business and consumers to explore which options are most appropriate in which circumstances, and what barriers need to be overcome;
• the Government will need to provide the long-term policy framework and support required for businesses, investors and consumers to make this change possible and cost-effective for society; and
• consumers will need to make choices around the way in which they use heat, and the Government will need to remove any barriers that prevent them from doing so in the most energy-efficient and affordable way.
An awful lot of waffle, but no real answers.
The reality, of course, is that there are no easy answers. Even Friends of The Earth recognise that it will take at least £85bn to begin to address the problem, money that the government does not have, and householders cannot afford. In their view, the government’s flagship “Green Deal” “is not a proper strategy for cutting carbon and eliminating fuel poverty.”
As I concluded in my previous post:-
How will home owners be persuaded? There seem to be four main options :-
- Subsidising the new low carbon technology – but of course we all have to pay the bill in the end.
- Increasing the cost of natural gas, by taxation or other means. This may be one of the reasons why, so far, the government has been so against developing shale gas, which has lowered gas prices in the US.
- Increasing the cost of conventional boilers, by taxation or the imposition of costly standards and regulations.
- Compulsion – maybe by banning the sale and installation of conventional boilers and even banning their use eventually.
It seems there will be a price to pay regardless.
Or maybe, common sense will be resumed!
For more details on these issues, read my earlier post, “How Will Britain’s Homes Be Decarbonised?”