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Clarity sought over gas heating’s role in Manchester redevelopment

Energy and Utilities Alliance asks for specific details on how city region hopes to move away from gas as primary source of heating by 2018 and if hydrogen may play a role in zero carbon push

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority is being asked to clearly define if there will be any potential role for gas heating under a proposed low carbon development plan for the city. Clarity is being sought by the heating industry on the back of a pledge by elected officials in the city to end a reliance on fossil fuels in its buildings and transport network.

The Energy and Utilities Alliance (EUA) has warned of a lack of detail being provided by the authority on how exactly it intends to transform the city into a lower carbon region pledged by moving away from relying on “carbon intensive gas as the primary source of heat” in its buildings by 2038. The devolved authority has also proposed aims for all new buildings in the city region to be ‘net zero carbon’ by 2028 as part of a new development strategy.

A ‘green summit’ scheduled by Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham for later this month will set out a five-year environment plan for how the devolved city region will start to try and meet its lower carbon ambitions.

Responding to Manchester’s wider consultation, the EUA has asked for specific details on how the city’s 2028 net zero carbon targets for new buildings can be met.

The trade association said, “It is crucial that the GMCA are open and specific with regard to the consequences of broad policy objectives so that businesses and consumers are able to respond.”

“Stating that Greater Manchester will have to ‘move away from carbon intensive gas as the primary source of heat’ makes a good headline, however, the reality is more complicated, as fossil fuels are used in the production of electricity and zero carbon technologies, such as hydrogen.”

EUA argued that hydrogen was an “attractive” alternative to natural gas for use in the grid.

It stated, “Closing the door on gas for the sake of short-term glory is irresponsible. GMCA would be wise to reconsider. The alternative would involve ripping out people’s central heating systems and pushing up homeowners bills.”

The group’s calls have been at a time where the UK government has pledged to completely switch away from fossil fuel heating in new build homes in the next seven years by banning use of gas boilers models there are currently in use across the country.

Manchester low carbon ambitions

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority announced in January that it had approved aims for all new buildings in the city region to be ‘net zero carbon’ by 2028 in January as part of its new development strategy.

The city’s development strategy has also identified a need to retrofit existing building stock for both domestic and non-domestic purposes as another significant factor to meet overall zero carbon ambitions in the city.

The devolved authority added that it will be working with built environment professionals and organisations such as the UK Green Building Council to determine if its ambitions for all new build properties can be net zero carbon by 2028 was possible.

The authority added, “Greater Manchester seeks to promote investment in new zero-carbon technologies, to reduce the reliance on carbon-based fuels to accelerate the speed at which such new technologies become financially viable and/or technically feasible.”

“It is therefore considered prudent to not exploit new sources of hydrocarbons and keep fossil fuels in the ground so at this point in time Greater Manchester will not support hydraulic fracturing (fracking).”

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