UK bioenergy industry reacts to heat and buildings strategy
The urgent appeal was made by the UK Pellet Council (UKPC) and Biomass Heat Works! following the announcement of the government’s heating and buildings strategy, was announced, including a £ 450million (€ 533million) boiler upgrade program and grants of 5,000 pounds sterling (5,900 euros) for heat pumps.
With around 1.45 million off-grid rural households unable to decarbonise their heat through the gas grid under current electrification policy, the UK biomass industry is urging ministers to stop neglecting their rural constituents, but rather to prioritize those hard-to-heat homes with an appropriate policy given that they are among the “worst and dirtiest” heating policies.
At least 70% of rural households use fossil fuels such as petroleum, LPG or coal as their main source of heat. This includes 422,000 of the 1.45 million properties that will not be suitable for ground source or air source heat pumps (ASHP) under current government policy due to their age, size, building type or location. .
These hard-to-heat homes are only suitable for bioenergy / biomass – or more expensive resistive electric heating, the organizations said. But as of March 2022, the government has only allowed a maximum of 350 properties in England and Wales to receive funding to convert to biomass.
Almost 99% of future funding proposed under the clean heat policy is directed to ASHP installations which typically favor new, well-insulated buildings in urban areas rather than rural off-grid communities. As a result, this latest announcement leaves a significant number of rural homeowners and voters still unable or without a clear path to transition to low-carbon solutions.
“This is again very disappointing for rural off-grid owners as there is still no government support or thought or policy suitable for the purpose included in these announcements, despite the clear data and evidence. independent organizations that exist, “said Mark Lebus, Chairman of the UK Pellet Council. “They have to be a priority.
“57% of rural households still use fossil fuels, which generates between 20 and 40% more CO.2 emissions than natural gas in urban areas, and while around 95,000 UK properties still use coal as their primary source of heat, around 54,000 are in rural areas.
Lebus added that a one-size-fits-all approach “just won’t work”. Since the additional costs to renovate ASHPs in older properties could add between £ 25,000 and £ 30,000 (€ 29,000 to € 35,000) to the total cost, it is likely that this number will be much higher, a he declared.
The UKPC has long called for a policy of decarbonising off-grid heat in rural areas, supporting biomass and prioritizing such housing, given that the current strategy is too urban-centric.
“It’s about choice,” said Lebus, “with every homeowner able to choose the best renewable, low-carbon technology for their specific property.
“Other preferred electrification solutions, like heat pumps, will of course perform better in an urban environment and we recognize this, but for rural areas they are problematic, impractical or extremely costly for the homeowner before they even start. be considered. “
Mark Anderson, Director of Sales and Marketing at Vattenfall Heat UK echoed some of the points raised by UKPC and Biomass Heat Works! local authorities, developers and the supply chain need to identify which technologies will work best in different parts of the country, ensuring that they can be delivered cost-effectively.
“Multiple technologies are ready to be deployed, such as district heating in densely populated areas. The best way forward is to create a market for these solutions now.
“Hydrogen has great potential to eliminate emissions from hard-to-treat sectors – possibly including space heating – but the priority must be to deploy ready-to-use solutions. “