You may well have seen that yesterday, Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, delivered a speech on Net Zero policy, setting out changes to the government’s green commitments.
It was announced that changes to government plans include delaying a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, and also plans to move the date for off-grid fossil fuel boiler phase-out from 2026 to 2035 – welcome news for all those living off-grid and relying on heating oil or LPG to fuel their homes.
Whilst this announcement represents a major shift in the government’s current policy, the Prime Minister insisted that the UK will still hit net zero by 2050. He gave the assurance that, along with many other governments around the world, the UK government is still committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050 as part of efforts to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Sunak said ‘I believe in net zero and I want to deliver it’.
So, what is net zero?
Net Zero means cutting greenhouse gas emissions to as close as possible to zero and no longer adding to the total amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In other words, total greenhouse gas emissions produced are balanced by an equivalent amount of greenhouse gases removed from the atmosphere.
In 2019, the UK government set a net zero emissions target of 2050, with two interim targets being set in 2021, which were to run a net zero power system and reduce emissions by 78% by 2035.
Amongst other proposals that have now been scrapped such as the proposal to create new taxes to discourage flying and the proposal to put a tax on meat, the Prime Minister announced the following, which primarily will affect those living off-grid:
- The timeline for phasing out off-grid heating oil and LPG boilers has been relaxed and will move from 2026 to 2035, with this being an 80%, rather than 100% phase-out;
- The government will never force anyone to rip out their existing boiler and install a heat pump - those unable to afford one will never have to switch;
- The boiler upgrade grant scheme, which provides assistance for homeowners hoping to switch away from heating oil or LPG, will rise by 50% from £5,000 to £7,500;
- The Clean Heat market Mechanism (CHMM), which supports the development of the UK market for low-carbon electric heat pumps, remains, meaning that boiler manufacturers will still be required to sell a proportion of heat pumps, or pay a £5,000 fine on every unit below target.
What does this mean for off-grid households?
In short - time!
The Prime Minister said that these changes will give homeowners much more time to adapt to the government’s net zero drive, and have been welcomed by Liquid Gas UK, the Trade Association for the renewable liquid gas industry in the UK.
What the LPG Trade Association has to say
Coming out in support of the changes, George Webb, CEO of Liquid Gas UK commented:
“Moving the phase-out date to 2035 brings welcome parity between off-grid and on-grid households. The 2026 off-grid fossil fuel boiler ban would have seen many in our rural communities having to spend tens of thousands of pounds on electric heating systems for hard-to-treat homes where they would have been unsuitable.
The new pragmatic approach now taken by Government is welcome, we look forward to working with Government on adopting a mixed-technology approach to off-grid heating. The LPG industry has a credible pathway to be 100% renewable by 2040, enabling consumers to use renewable liquid gases in their current heating systems, and negate the need for a costly retrofit and installation for those hard-to-treat properties, whilst still seeing significant carbon reductions of up to 90%, compared to fossil LPG.
For those off-grid consumers who won’t have to or can’t install a heat pump, they can still make a significant contribution to Net Zero by switching to renewable liquid gases.
We look forward to working with Government on the development and deployment of renewable liquid gases at scale.”