In our Industry viewpoint, Business Development Director Dan Owen shares his thoughts on how the move towards electric heating is impacting our customers.
There has been increasing coverage in the media about electrifying heating systems, with the government announcing plans to ban sales of new boilers from 2025 for new properties.
With heating homes accounting for almost 16 per cent of the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions, it’s good to see the move towards electrified heating gaining momentum. However, the transition is challenging for all involved, and there is still much work to be done if we are to meet targets; whilst the technology exists, the challenge comes in mobilising it quickly enough.
In order to move completely away from a reliance on fossil fuels, there are a range of factors that need to be addressed. This ranges from network capacity to developers adapting to the changes and costs involved in the transition. The change has a huge impact on companies like Aptus who offer support from the start, often long before land acquisition; everyone in the chain must be adaptable.
The whole infrastructure must be developed if we are to meet government targets, and this means significant expansion and upgrade to the current electricity grid such is the leap in load requirements.
Network operators will need to invest heavily in developing and modernising infrastructure to accommodate the increased demand, but this comes at a cost and often a delay — both of which can impact developers and providers. We are seeing more and more developments requiring reinforcements or connection to the grid much further away from the development itself. This clearly creates a commercial challenge too.
Because Aptus handles new build projects, we can design and install from a blank canvas. Existing properties, however, can present a completely different scenario in terms of retro-fitting, and time will tell what the next steps will be with that. With changing guidelines and no clear governance to work to, housebuilders need to carefully manage timescales versus requirements. For example, when a piece of land is being appraised for bidding, the infrastructure costs are now more relevant than ever due to the dwindling capacity in the grid.
It is essential that housebuilders plan ahead and determine the correct method of heating, such as heat pumps or community heating, so that the correct load and budgets can be set from the start. Some developers are opting for hybrid infrastructure, which is where plots being built pre-2025 will have a percentage of the site gas heated and the remainder heated via electric. This is where we can find savings and support developers. We aim to continue being the partner of choice for housebuilders.
Customers are increasingly appointing Aptus to carry out feasibility studies, including reviews to determine potential abnormal costs or inflated infrastructure costs. Sharing our expertise is something we have always done, however, right now, this support will be even more invaluable to our customers.
Whether the ambitious targets are achievable is yet to become apparent, but what is without doubt, is that electrified heating will be the norm in the not-too-distant future. Proactive planning and engaging as early as possible is vital in giving clarity on the impact of new systems.