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A welcome U-turn: Ministers backtrack on gas boiler ban

August 11, 2021

By Paul Homewood


Another victory in the battle against banning gas boilers!




The Global Warming Policy Forum has consistently and for some time argued, along with other experts in the field, that attempts to force households into premature replacement of cheap, efficient, and effective gas boilers would be economically and politically disastrous.


In May, the Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF) urged Boris Johnson to pause the poorly designed green home heating policies before they collapsed into a humiliating fiasco. GWPF therefore welcomes this latest sign of realism in government intentions.

However, other parts of the announcement give cause for significant concern.

Ministers are reported to be considering a £4,000 grant to support homeowners who wish to install a heat pump. But £4,000 is only a very small fraction of the total cost (including installation and the additional insulation required) which could amount to £12,000–£20,000.

The likelihood is that the beneficiaries of this grant would overwhelmingly be well-off households, and the subsidy yet another wealth transfer from poorer taxpayers and consumers to richer householders.

GWPF director Benny Peiser said:

This grant for the rich would be an iniquitous travesty. Government must learn from the £1 billion wasted on support for wealthy Tesla and electric car buyers and ensure that any grants for a new heating system are means tested. Help must be limited to those who really need it.”

What is more, ministers also need to think more carefully about the wisdom of bribing households into adopting a technology that may be quite inappropriate in many cases.

Heat pumps will not be suitable for all, or even most British households. Hydrogen-ready natural gas boilers are now in development, allowing homeowners to retain the advantages of natural gas while remaining flexible on the choice of future fuels. Government policy too, needs to remain flexible.

Dr John Constable, the GWPF’s energy spokesman, said:

No economic planning has ever survived contact with reality, and Boris Jonson’s Net Zero scheme is no exception. The Prime Minister’s present embarrassment over gas boilers was completely foreseeable, but No. 10’s policy advisors were blinded by green ideology and failed to warn him of the obvious downsides. Without hard headed realism there will be many more Net Zero humiliations to come.”


Personally I feel that means testing is not only unfair to those just above the limit, but pointless anyway. Anybody on benefits will simply not be able to afford the thousands of pounds needed over and above the £4000 grant.

  1. GeoffB permalink
    August 11, 2021 7:36 pm

    Robbing the poor to subsidise the rich again. Remember the initial £0.48/kWh for Feed In Tariff to install solar panels, the well off grabbed that (they are still getting in it). Now it is proposed to pay for the installation of the EV charging network with a levy on everyones electricity bill. All the green subsidies should be removed, then the true cost will be exposed.

    • August 12, 2021 8:02 am

      Yes, To be able to install solar panels you had to own a house in the first place and be able to afford them. You need to be able to afford an EV and to be able to install the charger. You need to be able to afford to install a heat pump and all the infrastructure by way of insulation, underfloor heating or larger radiators etc.

      This is a rich mans game and sooner or later the red wall voters will realise they are subsidising those much richer than they are to install things they don’t even agree with.

  2. john cheshire permalink
    August 11, 2021 8:35 pm

    Typical government trick, using our own money to bribe or coerce us to do things we don’t want to do.
    It’s time these servants were put back in their place. They need to be defunded because that’s the only way to stop them.

  3. Duker permalink
    August 11, 2021 11:41 pm

    They have done the same with increased Defence funding and new projects. It all withers way some years down the track as they arent putting ‘new’ money in at all and the surprise revelations its affordable.
    Same is happening over the foreign aid cuts….. they are being resisted mightily and a promise made to ‘restore’ the % of GDP

  4. Gamecock permalink
    August 11, 2021 11:42 pm

    So, not only do you have to buy your own, through taxes, you have to buy your neighbors, too.

  5. Matt Dalby permalink
    August 12, 2021 12:22 am

    Shame about the nonsense in the article about hydrogen ready boilers allowing people to be flexible about future fuel choices. You have no choice, and never will, about the fuel used in your boiler. You have to use the same fuel that everyone else on the supply network uses, unless you get your fuel delivered in cylinders and store it on site. This is why hydrogen can never be an option (as well as being expensive and a very ineficent way or distributing energy). Everyone on the same network of pipes has to use the same fuel, either natural gas or hydrogen, therefore entire towns would have to convert to hydrogen at the same time or a lot of people would be unable to use their boilers.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      August 12, 2021 2:40 am

      And the hydrogen will be much more expensive that the methane – absent some compensating green tax that would go way beyond any sensible social cost of carbon.

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        August 12, 2021 1:41 pm

        Not only that the product will not be that good at doing its job. All those people who reminisce how “Town Gas” had over 50% hydrogen seem to forget how bloody awful it actually was due to its much lower calorific value per litre.

      • Jordan permalink
        August 12, 2021 10:01 pm

        “sensible social cost of carbon” is surely an oxymoron.

  6. Gamecock permalink
    August 12, 2021 2:55 am

    Ministers reminded everyone they still have the authority to ban gas boilers. They just choose not to today.

    • Jordan permalink
      August 12, 2021 9:00 am

      Not sure about that Gamecock. Even with outright majority control in Parliament, HMG cannot lose sight of the next election, and this tempers the control it might otherwise assume.
      If HMG loses its head in the clouds on some ideological trip, groups of backbenchers will form to question the wisdom of policy.
      So we have the cross-party backbench group challenging the decision to ban new IC cars by 2030, who published a discussion paper last week. And there is talk of another group to challenge the costs and wider practicalities of of May’s Net Zero legislation. These groups need our support.
      HMG doesn’t have quite the authority it might like to assume.

  7. John Hultquist permalink
    August 12, 2021 3:49 am

    I suggest they convert all their own houses and apartments to hydrogen — that would be a good sample size — and test it for 5 – 10 years. If the world doesn’t end by then, the experiment can be evaluated.

    Heat pumps (air-sourced) make sense only in houses designed with ducts and inside space for an air-handler and outside space for compressors. Where I live hydro-electricity is inexpensive and houses have insulation. Older = 3.5 inches in walls; Newer = 5.5 inches.
    We also have a new wood stove for emergency.
    Good luck with all that in the older housing of the UK.

  8. August 12, 2021 7:37 am

    Telegraph reports today on a peer reviewed paper to be published shortly
    The paper says: “Perhaps surprisingly, the greenhouse gas footprint of blue hydrogen is more than 20pc greater than burning natural gas or coal for heat and some 60pc greater than burning diesel oil for heat.

    “Our analysis assumes that captured carbon dioxide can be stored indefinitely, an optimistic and unproven assumption. Even if true though, the use of blue hydrogen appears difficult to justify on climate grounds.”

    The study was led by Professor Robert Howarth at Cornell University and received funding from the Park Foundation in the US, which wants there to be a “managed decline” in fossil fuels and resists new oil and gas drilling.

    Even a properly peer reviewed paper promoted by an anti gas and oil group states blue hydrogen creates 20% more emissions than Nat gas. The CCC with no proper scientific evidence provides says it creates 85% less. I know who I believe and it’s not the liars of the CCC

    • Jack Broughton permalink
      August 12, 2021 7:36 pm

      During the last “Hydrogen economy” push in the early 2000s several papers were published expressing concern about inevitable hydrogen leakages and the ozone layer. Due to its low density, hydrogen passes to the stratosphere very rapidly and it reacts very easily with ozone.

  9. Chaswarnertoo permalink
    August 12, 2021 8:01 am

    The insanity of Mr Nut Nut has limits, then?

  10. StephenP permalink
    August 12, 2021 8:05 am

    In our village, which has a population of just over 500, there is a proposed development of 35 houses in a relatively restricted area, all of which are going to be fitted with charging points in their garage and all will have air-source heat pumps. A number of questions come to mind:
    Will the village electricity supply need to be beefed up, and by how much to cope with the increased demand from chargers and heat pumps, as well as for heating water and cooking?
    What will the noise be from 35 heat pumps going flat out in the winter. The temperature during the last few winters was 5-7°C?
    How effective will the heat pumps be?

    • August 12, 2021 9:09 am


      The answer is surely yes. That is a considerable extra strain on electric (which may well be an old infrastructure anyway) The EV’s alone will mean things will likely need to be upgraded and the heat pumps will be drawing the most power just when everyone else is using it, during the winter.

      Of course it depends on how many of the 35 houses actually buy an EV and whether they charge it at home or at work.

      If the houses are built to excellent standards the insulation will be better than a retrofit in an old house. The house temperature will however likely be cooler and additional spot heating may be required.

      Below around 10C the efficiency drops off. The pumps ideally need some sort of noise insulation around them. The ones installed locally however don’t appear to have this as that would be an extra cost.

      • StephenP permalink
        August 12, 2021 12:55 pm

        Thanks Climatereason, interesting comments.
        It sounds as if we can now look forward to getting a new substation and having the roads dug up to lay heavier duty cables.

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      August 12, 2021 1:36 pm

      There are more points to consider in addition to those highly valid ones made by climatereason. ASHP efficiency (CoP) is measured at an outside temperature of 7°C (not particularly cold) and an inside water temperature of just 35°C (not very warm). They will not work at the claimed 3 to 1 efficiency (more like 1.5 to 1 in a moderate winter) so much more electricity will be used than allowed for.
      Then read this government advice:-
      So you must daily ensure that any stored hot water reaches 60°C or risk an ailment far more dangerous individually than Covid 19 could ever be. {Your existing gas or oil heating system will routinely already do that} So how will they ensure safe hot water? Either switch on a 3kW immersion heater to heat up a tankful and/or (but most likely both) use an instant electric shower rated at up to 10.8kW.
      A further point to add is that the circulating pumps for the central heating on all those houses will probably be running almost continuously (16 hours+ per day) also gulping down the electricity.
      And oh yes, get used to lingering wood smoke on cold still days when the wood burners fire up to compensate from the lack of warmth from the heat pump!

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