"Ban all gas boilers from 2025 to reach net-zero" says IEA

"Ban all gas boilers from 2025 to reach net-zero" says IEA

The International Energy Agency has released a report calling for the ban of all gas boilers by 2025, if the world is to achieve net zero emissions by the middle of the century.

Home heating with gas or oil is currently a major source of carbon emissions in many countries, responsible for around 20% or C02 in the US and the UK.

The IEA path to net-zero says that in just four years' time, there should be no new fossil fuel boilers sold, except where they are compatible with hydrogen.

Maria Pastukhova, from the E3G environmental think tank said: "The building sector is maybe one of the toughest ones because aside from the emphasis that the IEA has put on efficient buildings, all the old existing infrastructure has to be retrofitted. And that's a particular challenge for governments."

 

What's the alternative to having a gas boiler?

Hydrogen boilers

Hydrogen boilers use hydrogen gas instead of natural gas, LPG or oil – which all produce carbon dioxide as a by-product of the combustion that takes place. The only by-product from hydrogen is water, making it much more eco-friendly.

However they’re not without their controversies. Hydrogen is highly flammable, which means extra precautions have to be taken to ensure the use of hydrogen for home heating is safe. And although hydrogen won't emit carbon when used by a boiler,  the actual production of hydrogen can emit carbon if fossil fuels are still used.

Electric boilers 

Both gas and electric boilers use electricity in order to operate but electric boilers use electricity as fuel. 

They can potentially be a source of low carbon heating if the electricity is generated by renewable energy, however  at the moment electricity carbon content is still relatively high. Another factor to consider is the high running costs of electric boilers, considering that electricity is much more expensive than natural gas.

Air Source Heat Pumps

An air source heat pump extracts heat from the air outside and uses it to deliver heating and hot water. There are two types: air-to-air and air-to-water.

  • Air-to-air heat pumps heat the space via a network of fans and can provide cooling during the summer.
  • Air-to-water heat pumps heat more conventional wet central heating systems (radiators and underfloor heating).

Before installing an air source heat pump you need to ensure that your home is already well insulated for them to work properly. However they are generally regarded as low maintenance and have a long life span.

Ground Source Heat Pumps

A ground source heat pump extracts heat from the ground and uses it to deliver central heating and domestic hot water.

These types of heat pumps can be difficult to install in retrofits and their efficiency can be affected by the soil type however they have low running costs and are virtually silent (unlike air source heat pumps).

 

 

Comment from Elmhurst Energy Consultancy:

Given that emissions from heating are the single biggest contributor to UK emissions, it is clear that addressing and replacing gas boilers is necessary if we are to achieve net-zero carbon by 2050. Having a variety of options that can be utilised in a diverse range of both existing and new buildings will enable us to take steps in reducing emissions from heat production in the UK; however it is crucial that these new solutions maintain and improve upon the heating systems currently in place.


Article published 18/05/21

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