Gas network defended amid new net zero report

Gas Users Organisation, the consumer group representing domestic gas customers, says that CBI recommendations to remove gas central heating from millions of households is “like Marie Antoinette telling bakeries to only bake cake”.

In a recent report from CBI and the University of Birmingham, it was recommended that 20,000 households per week should be disconnected from the gas grid, and that gas boilers should be phased out, the organisation noted.

Andrew Newman, technical director of the Gas Users Organisation, said: “Most UK consumers are very happy with their current gas central heating, which is clean, convenient, and reasonably cheap. We all know that more needs to be done to bring home heating to net zero, but the interests of customers need to be considered, and the CBI fails to do that.

“There are strong options to keep the existing gas networks, and source the gas within it from renewable sources, this can be biomethane, similar to the natural gas we already use, but made from renewable sources, and also hydrogen. These options are quite exciting because biomethane made from municipal waste would actually be carbon negative, and hydrogen can be made from renewable electricity and then stored until it is needed much more easily than electricity can be stored.

“The CBI’s plan prefers heat pumps, and heat networks. Most UK consumers are not really aware of heat pumps yet, this is a relatively efficient form of electric heating, but most customers would find them more expensive to run than gas. To work effectively, older homes would need an expensive and disruptive refit, with new larger radiators, or underfloor heating. Heat pumps are much more expensive to fit than gas boilers, around £9,000 for an air sourced heat pump, and around twice that for a ground source heat pump. A report from Element Energy for the government on heat pumps concluded that in all scenarios considered, heat pumps had higher life-time costs for consumers than gas heating. The CBI report is also rather vague about where the huge expansion of electricity generation and transmission capacity would come from to power all these heat pumps, but we can be pretty sure it will be the consumer who will pay.”

The CBI acknowledged that most households had no awareness that a revolution of domestic heating was even being planned, the Gas Users Organisation added.

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