UK halves emissions but more can be done

7 February 2024

Alpha welcomes the news that the UK has become the first major economy to halve its emissions, but more can be done to push the nation even closer towards its 2050 net zero goal.

The government announced yesterday (06/02) that the UK has cut emissions by 50% between 1990 and 2022, while also growing its economy by almost 80%. This compares to a 23% reduction in France and no change in the USA. The incredible shift in renewable energy is largely responsible, which now accounts for more than 40% of the country’s electricity.

Meanwhile, 17% of heating emissions from buildings come from homes, which is comparable to the contribution of all petrol and diesel cars. That’s why decarbonising our domestic systems should be top of the agenda, advises Dan Wilden, Alpha’s renewable product manager.

“For the majority of existing UK housing stock, it is proposed that heat pumps are the best solution; however misleading information means that heat pumps are not being shown in the best light and are sadly driving homeowners away from exploring this renewable energy source. In addition, the associated costs are making them unattainable for some households in the current economic climate.

“The government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme goes part of the way to supporting homeowners with the cost aspect, however many consumers often aren’t ready to take that plunge and invest, without fully understanding the new technology.

“At Alpha, we are advising homeowners to consider purchasing a hybrid model – which will allow them to keep the familiarity of the gas boiler combined with heat pump technology, to reduce emissions and bills now. In a hybrid system, the heat pump can provide the heating while the boiler produces hot water on demand.

“All modern gas boilers are also hydrogen-blend ready, meaning they have been manufactured and tested to be able to run on a blend of 80% natural gas and 20% hydrogen, in preparation for the government adding small amounts of hydrogen to the country’s natural gas system.

“Hybrid systems have clear benefits for consumers but are not being pushed enough or supported by the government. Alpha strongly advocates for hybrid systems to be incorporated into the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, so homeowners can access vital funding to support them on their sustainable home heating journey. The government cannot simply expect every homeowner to be heat pump ready, but moving towards hybrid will allow the nation to further reduce its emissions.”

This latest announcement also comes amidst speculation of the termination of the Clean Heat Market Mechanism, which places the onus on manufacturers of heating appliances to meet annual targets for the proportion of heat pumps they sell compared to fossil fuel boilers.

Dan adds: “With talk amongst the industry of the Clean Heat Market Mechanism also under scrutiny, signifying a potential U-turn in focus on heat pump technology, there’s never been a more important time for hybrid systems to take their place as the perfect stepping stone towards sustainable home heating, and we hope it can get recognition at government level for the part it will play in helping to decarbonise our homes.”