Boris Johnson dealt blow as Kwasi Kwarteng admits heat pumps ‘worse’ than gas boilers

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Mr Kwarteng’s comments arrive amid a raging debate about the future of gas boilers in British households. The Government has now published its Hydrogen Strategy, stating that it aims to phase out gas boilers by 2026. Many, however, fear opting for greener alternatives like heat pumps is going to hit the taxpayers in their pockets.

Mr Kwarteng has now warned heat pumps are “still in their infancy” and has urged for more investment into the technology to help improve them.

The MP for Spelthorne thinks there is room for improvement and has admitted to using a gas boiler at home – although he is looking to make the move to a greener option.

It is estimated domestic heating accounts for about 14 percent of the nation’s greenhouse emissions.

And according to EDF Energy, about 95 percent of all households in the UK are centrally heated, mostly by gas or oil-fired boilers.

A blanket ban on gas boilers could help the UK cut back on its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and meet its net zero goal by 2050.

But there is growing concern doing so will incur great costs.

Mr Kwarteng has now told The Telegraph he thinks more firms should invest in making heat pumps a viable alternative to gas boilers.

He said: “I don’t think actually heat pumps are that much worse than boilers.

“All I’m saying is that they could be improved if there was more investment.”

The Business and Energy Secretary went on to say private stakeholders need to be part of the equation if the Government is to make a success of its plans for a greener Britain.

He added: “We’re not going to get a hydrogen economy just by the Government writing cheques.

“We’re going to do that by the Government, yes, writing some cheques, if I want to put it crudely, but critically, by attracting private investment.”

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Unlike traditional gas boilers, heat pumps do not have to burn fossil fuels to provide warmth.

Instead, they draw heat from the ground or air and transfer it to a liquid.

The liquid is then compressed to raise its temperature and is circulated around the home to keep you and your loved ones warm.

But the technology has its critics and is presently much more expensive than gas boilers.

Air-based heat pumps typically cost upwards of £6,000 and ground-based pumps can cost anywhere upwards of £10,000.

Earlier this month Mr Kwarteng welcomed plans to train 40,000 plumbers across the UK on how to install heat pumps.

The training scheme was presented by the Heat Pump Association (HPA) as a three-day training course.

The Government is presently on course to install some 600,000 heat pumps by 2028.

Mr Kwarteng said: “The Government is absolutely committed to working with industry to drive down the costs of heat pumps over time so they are increasingly affordable for consumers.

“While heat pumps are fast becoming a natural option for households, we need to ensure we have enough skilled tradespeople to hit our target of 600,000 installations each year by 2028 – so the HPA setting up this training scheme is absolutely critical in this endeavour.”

Hydrogen boilers have also come under fire as their fuel is made either using methane, with the emissions captured and stored, classed as “blue,” or through electrolysis, considered “green” if renewable electricity is used.

The Government’s new strategy will incorporate both.

Earlier this month, a damning study was released claiming blue hydrogen could be dirtier than gas or coal.

But Mr Kwarteng told he “totally rejects” the findings, joining a long list of other industry experts.

He explained: “We are using carbon capture, so you may as well have blue hydrogen. It is going to be very decarbonised.

“Blue hydrogen is much cheaper than green, so if you are going to create a market, it’s much cheaper to make blue and develop green at the time.

“It will cost far more to just produce green hydrogen to get to the same production volumes.

“The Extinction Rebellion crowd have questions about it, but I think it’s practically the best way to develop the market.

“It’s much cleaner than natural gas.”

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