In October 2021, BEIS published a consultation which proposes to phase out fossil fuel heating systems in large (>1,000 sqm) non-domestic buildings from 2024 and all non-domestic buildings from 2026, using a ‘heat pump first approach’.
In our consultation response, we argue that 2022 and 2026 is too soon to phase out the installation of fossil fuel heating in off-gas grid buildings. 2024 is over a decade sooner than the requirement for urban buildings, a highly unconventional ‘high-hanging fruit’ approach which would require a relatively small number of widely differing buildings to take on all the immediate risks of an immature low-carbon heating market. These risks include high capital costs, high running costs, lack of installers and a lack of skills and knowledge, especially for older buildings, and insufficiently tested reliability, all resulting in a lack of consumer confidence.
We argued that the roll-out of low-carbon heating in off-gas grid buildings must be first de-risked. One way to do this would be for a mass-rollout pilot scheme of off-gas grid buildings, with Government oversight and monitoring, including on the impact of local electricity grids.
We proposed a technology-neutral approach, rather than a “heat pump first” approach, so that building owners have the flexibility to choose the most effective low-carbon heating option for them and their property.