The UK Clean Growth Strategy

Pro May 5, 2020

The UK government in October 2017 published its ‘Clean Growth Strategy’ which sets out plans to reduce carbon emissions, of which heating and buildings’ energy efficiency are two key areas. The measures outlined should mark significant opportunity for growth in lower-carbon heating technology such as heat pumps, as well as heating systems that will work with district heating networks, such as HIUs (Heat Interface Units) and CHPs (Combined Heat and Power systems).

The UK government is in the early stages of an ambitious new strategy for low carbon growth, as it seeks to meet its stiff target of cutting greenhouse gases by 80% by 2050.

The Clean Growth Strategy actively seeks to encourage development of new technologies, as it seeks to cut heating emissions - an opportunity which has been widely welcomed by the HVAC sector.

The strategy embeds minimum boiler efficiency standards into the building regulations for the first time, and these standards will include mandatory controls – another first for the UK – in a bid to improve heating efficiency. This scheme is known as Boiler Plus.

£184 million of public funds to enable ‘lower cost low carbon homes’

In an exciting move for manufacturers, the government has also made available £184 million of public funds to drive innovation in new energy efficiency and heating technologies, in a bid to enable ‘lower cost low carbon homes.’ The strategy ranges across both domestic and commercial properties.  On the domestic side, it envisages a huge programme of improvements to energy efficiency, via a three-point programme of upgrades to UK housing. This comprises £3.6 billion of investment to upgrade around a million homes through the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme (financed by energy providers) and an ambitious aspiration to upgrade the energy efficiency of all homes to Energy Performance Certificate Band C by 2035, where ‘practical, cost effective and affordable.’

A programme for commercial building

Alongside this will be a programme for commercial building support to improve their energy efficiency in new and existing buildings and exploring how voluntary building standards might support energy efficiency improvements. It has also introduced an Industrial Energy Efficiency scheme to help large companies install measures to cut their energy use and their bills.

Perhaps the most significant element of the strategy is that it seeks to end ‘high carbon fossil fuel heating’, namely current oil and LPG boiler technology - phasing out their installation of in new and existing homes that are not on the gas ‘grid’ during the 2020s. While the oil and LPG sectors are now working on lower carbon versions of their fuels, the move is seen as a clear signal for wider introduction of heat pump technology.

The UK Heat Pump Association has welcomed the move:

“Although the exact detail has yet to be worked out, the HPA (Heat Pump Association) views this as a clear signal of intent toward ‘cleaner heating’ systems and heat pumps of all genres can contribute significantly to this.”

Heat networks

The other key technology winner looks like being heat networks. The plan envisages extending existing heat networks and building new ones across the UK, underpinned with public funding.

The heat networks body, the Association of Decentralised Energy, welcomed the direction of travel, saying:

“The Heat Networks Investment Project is a hugely important part of creating a self-sustaining heat network market post-2020 and it is clear that all customers from householders to large industrial sites can benefit from good value, low carbon district heating”.