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Government urged to introduce ‘carbon intensity’ regulation

Sustainable Energy Association has argued that efforts to decarbonise heating in UK homes will be better supported by new regulatory approach to setting efficiency targets

A carbon intensity regulation intended to improve heating system efficiency by setting targets on carbon emissions per kWh should be introduced by government to better realise its net zero aims, the Sustainable Energy Association (SEA) has said.

The proposal has been made in a paper published by the group to set out a clearer direction in helping industry to meet government targets to eliminate the use of fossil fuel heating in new build properties and then fully decarbonise homes by 2050.

The SEA’s paper has called for a regulation that was based on calculating kilograms carbon dioxide equivalent (kgCO2e) per kWh of heat from a particular system.

A heating system that is efficient enough, can make use of a lower carbon fuel or combine both principles, would be able to remain in use under the proposed carbon intensity regulation standards until the technology reached the end of its life, the paper added. The system would then need to be replaced with a system that met the current efficiency requirements at the time of replacement.

The SEA stated, “The regulation would apply to heating systems only at the point of replacement.”

“This standard should be facilitated by enforcement measures detailed in the Building Regulations and accompanied by incentives for low-carbon heat to support uptake.”

Attempts to introduce such a regulation would also need to be backed by a holistic suite of reforms to reduce energy demand and also support end user take up of lower carbon heating technologies.

Among the support measures the SEA has suggested could be introduced with the regulation are a subsidy scheme or a boiler scrappage initiative. This could be used to address up front costs in moving to lower carbon technologies. The paper also recommended offering equity loans, similar to Scotland’s Home Energy Efficiency Scheme, that would allow for properties to be made energy efficient with loans that can be paid back when a home is sold.

Other new financial models proposed by the SEA include savings schemes set aside for the specific purpose of funding lower carbon heating solutions that could be similar to Help to Buy projects or other ISAs designed to reward homeowners to meet specific goals in renovating their property.

The government is meanwhile urged in the paper to better reflect lower carbon heating in the overall prices of property. This could be potentially achieved via taxation or stamp duty rates.


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