Foss-fuel-free future

Over the past year we’ve all experienced change like never before. But now that the worst is behind us, we’ve got to get ready for the Next Big Thing… a world without domestic gas heating to achieve net zero by 2050. Getting to net zero means how we heat our homes will change forever. We already know that from 2025 gas and oil boilers will be banned from new build and, from the mid-2030s, you won’t be able to replace a customer’s gas or oil boiler with anything other than a low-carbon heating system, or an appliance that can be converted to use a clean fuel. Systems such as a heat pumps or hydrogen-ready boilers will be likely candidates to replace gas and oil boilers, but will they cost the earth, so to speak?

We’re on it

At Intergas we’re currently running trials in the municipality of Oldambt in the Netherlands, where some of the houses are being heated with hydrogen. We are also measuring the energy saved in households who have upgraded insulation or installed electric heat pumps. Data that are based on real consumer experience, using a range of different technologies, will help us develop the right kind of appliances and heating systems for our customers in the UK.

What’s net zero?

Just in case you need clarification on the term ‘net zero’ that’s being used so freely these days, it refers to achieving a balance between the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. There are two different routes to achieving net zero, which work in tandem: reducing existing emissions and actively removing greenhouse gases. When the amount of carbon emissions produced are cancelled out by the amount removed, the UK will be a net-zero emitter. The lower the emissions, the easier this becomes.

A gross-zero target would mean reducing all emissions to zero. This is not realistic, so instead the net-zero target recognises that there will be some emissions but that these need to be fully offset, predominantly through natural carbon sinks such as oceans and forests. (In the future, it may be possible to use artificial carbon sinks to increase carbon removal, and research into these technologies is ongoing.)

Strange but true

Did you know that the Government is so fully behind sustainable energy generation the UK it’s home to the world’s largest offshore wind farm, capable of producing 3.6GW of electricity, enough to power five million homes, or about five per cent of total UK demand? This £9 billion wind farm is on Dogger Bank (sounds familiar? Do you listen to

 Radio 4’s Shipping Forecast?), off the north east coast of Yorkshire, and will begin generation in 2023.