Ian Henderson, the founder of Boiler Plan UK, is calling on the government to provide clear details of how it plans to ban the fitting of gas boilers in new-build homes by 2023.
The managing director of the North East company said the industry faces a huge task if it is to scale up the production and installation of the alternative electric heat pumps within three years.
The government, which aims to install 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028, has also signalled its intention to phase out gas boilers from all existing homes by 2035.
Describing it as a “seismic shift in the way the UK will warm its homes”, he warned that there is yet to be any meaningful engagement with industry stakeholders and the supply chain on how it can fulfil such a target.
He added: “We all welcome a carbon neutral future, but we as an industry must be in a position to be able to deliver a practical and cost-effective alternative to the mass market.
“It needs a clear vision in place as to how this country can achieve it, rather than merely setting targets, engaging with stakeholders from within the heating industry is key to a wider strategy of decarbonisation which will undoubtedly include hydrogen gas boilers replacing the standard natural gas boilers that we heat 22.5 million homes with now.
The government originally said it wished to ban gas boilers from all new homes by 2025 but has brought the target forward to 2023 – as part of a range of initiatives to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
Ian said: “To put it into context Homes England aim to deliver 300,000 new homes a year – while last year just 25,000 heat pumps were fitted to UK homes, compared with 1.7m gas boilers.
“The industry is working hard to develop and deliver new forms of low carbon heating, but it remains to be seen whether it can meet such an ambitious target.
“It’s not just about ramping up the production of heat pumps but having sufficient engineers trained and qualified to install them.”
The other area of concern is cost and affordability. An average gas boiler is priced between £1,700 and £3,500 compared to a ground source heat pump, which costs £11,000 to £15,000 or an air source pump which has a £5,000 to £8,000 price tag.
Boiler Plan, which is headquartered in Cramlington, is already beginning to diversify from its core market of selling, installing, and maintaining gas boilers. In October it established a dedicated eco department – using its expertise to carry out assessments and install energy saving improvements as part of the government’s £2 billion Green Homes Grants scheme.
Ian added: “Like many other businesses in the heating industry we are already contributing to creating a low carbon future, we have added two fully electric vehicles to our fleet in the last three months.
“The challenge in the electrification of UK homes for heating is whether this technology can be adapted to the mass market in such a short time frame, whether the energy companies can create enough green electricity at the right price for consumers and whether our National Grid can cope with the demand, it nearly goes in to meltdown when people put the kettle on at the commercial break of EastEnders!”