Ofgem has been challenged by a leading energy trade body to examine the real-world consequence of shifting homes from gas onto heat pumps.
The CEO of Energy and Utilities Alliance (EUA), Mike Foster, has written to the regulator Jonathan Brearley, calling for a village-sized trial of decarbonising homes using heat pumps.
The trial will mirror what is currently being considered for homes to be converted to hydrogen, another option designed to decarbonise the UK.
Mike says, “A heat pump village trial will replicate what will happen all across the UK if the government decides that hydrogen will not replace natural gas. Such a trial, conducted now, will help inform the regulator and government of the consequences for the consumer.
“Electricity networks will need massive upgrades to the wires, the substations and even the pylons. Homes need assessing for their suitability for a heat pump. That means looking at the fabric of the building itself, its outside space, its internal pipework or even where to put a hot water tank. A heat pump village trial does just this.
“Ofgem should have the consumer at the very heart of its thinking. Reinforcement of the power network will come at a massive cost; the consumer will foot the bill, so they have a right to know what this is likely to be. They should also be told what is required from them in their homes.
“Alongside hydrogen village trials, a heat pump village trial will provide the much-needed evidence for policymakers as they tackle the challenge of decarbonising UK homes. The cost of a trial will be miniscule compared to getting this wrong. I urge Ofgem to step up to the plate and take a lead.”