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    PM’s plan to replace gas boilers by 2023 is ‘impossible’

    Boris’s big green pipe dream: PM’s plan to replace gas boilers by 2023 is ‘impossible’ as it’s revealed only TWO hydrogen prototypes exist, a fifth of gas network will need to be dug up and relaid and EVERY engineer retrained

    How is hydrogen produced and how does it get into homes? 

    There are two main ways of producing hydrogen as follows:

    a) steam methane reforming, which sees methane react with steam in the presence of a catalyst

    b) electroysis, using renewable energy such as wind farms

    It travels along yellow pipes made of medium density polyethylene.

    It cannot travel through iron pipes because these aren’t hydrogen ready.

    The hydrogen then goes into the home in the same way as methane gas, which is currently used in boilers.

    To begin, a blended gas of methane and hydrogen, which works in current boilers, will be put down pipes 

    The change to 100 per cent hydrogen will take place at a later date 

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    Major concerns were mounting today over whether Britain will be ready for the Prime Minister’s ‘ambitious’ plans to ban gas boilers in all new-build homes by 2023, after the target was brought forward by two years.

    The ban on methane gas boilers means new homes must have low-carbon alternatives, such as electric heat pumps or hydrogen boilers – but it has surprised many homebuilders who had been working towards a deadline of 2025.

    And 20 per cent of the UK’s pipe network is not yet ready to safely carry hydrogen – while not a single hydrogen boiler is yet on sale for consumers, with only two prototypes currently being tested.

    One homebuilding source said the 2023 target ‘might look good in a headline but it’s practically impossible to deliver’. 

    At first a blended gas of methane and hydrogen, which works in current boilers, will be put down pipes – before the full switch to hydrogen at a later date.  

    But further issues include thousands of engineers who will have to be retrained to fit the new boilers, and there are fears over the highly flammable gas exploding if the units are not installed correctly. 

    Cadent, which operates the network, said the 20 per cent iron mains which are not ready for hydrogen will be replaced by the time 100 per cent hydrogen is ready to be put into the gas grid. 

    But on a day of confusion yesterday, the 2023 deadline for banning gas boilers in new builds was removed from an official document within an hour of the Times contacting the Government about it.

    Officials blamed its inclusion on a ‘technical error’, but it was then confirmed that the ban was still being brought forward by two years from 2025.

    A Government source said: ‘It (the 2023 ban) wasn’t supposed to be in there. There hasn’t been any stakeholder engagement on it yet but it’s definitely the plan.’ 

    The Home Builders Federation said the deadline poses ‘enormous challenges’ for developers, suppliers and energy firms in terms of skills, design and infrastructure.

    It said it wanted targets to be ‘realistic and deliverable’, adding: ‘Any proposals to advance the timetables already set out would cause significant concern.’ 

    Only two prototypes have so far been developed by Baxi and Worcester Bosch which will be put into show properties at first, but the retail cost is not yet known. 

    The inside of a Worcester Bosch hydrogen boiler, a prototype of which is being developed

    The inside of a Worcester Bosch hydrogen boiler, a prototype of which is being developed

    Other alternatives to gas boilers will be heat pumps, but these are very expensive – coming in at £19,000 for a ground source or £10,000 for an air source device.

    This compares to the £1,500 for a new gas-fired boiler including installation, with the public said to be ‘poorly prepared’ for the costs and disruption of replacing gas boilers in the future.

    At a glance: Issues with PM’s plan to ban gas boilers in new builds

    THE PLAN

    What the PM wants: No more gas boilers in new builds from 2023, and 600,000 heat pumps installed a year

    How much it will cost: £500million of taxpayers’ cash on new hydrogen tech

    THE PROBLEMS 

    High costs of alternatives: A new gas-fired boiler costs about £1,500 with installation, compared to £19,000 for a ground source heat pump or £10,000 for an air source heat pump

    Still in development: Hydrogen boilers are not even on the market yet, with Worcester Bosch making a prototype – and their cost is therefore unknown

    Effect on house prices: Boilers are normally installed in new builds before people move in, meaning the cost would be factored into the house price

    Safety concerns: Hydrogen is highly flammable and could cause an explosion if not installed correctly

    Resistant to change: The public are ‘poorly prepared for the costs and disruption’ of replacing gas boilers, the Social Market Foundation said

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    Meanwhile experts said today that the target to install 600,000 heat pumps every year under Boris Johnson’s ten-point plan is unlikely to be met.

    The Government has previously admitted fears over supply issues with 30,000 heat pumps currently installed a year, but an annual target of 300,000 new homes.

    Energy expert David Hilton said: ‘Baxi and Worcester Bosch have both developed systems that absolutely work and they’re going to be put into show properties.

    ‘For hydrogen the installer guidance and everything has already been written – it’s all happening, it’s just slightly ahead of the mark.’

    He added that projects are already underway to install hydrogen power in industrial areas from 2024, and after that the rollout would be to domestic homes.

    Mr Hilton told MailOnline that only 80 per cent of pipes under roads are the ‘yellow’ ones made of made of medium density polyethylene, which are hydrogen ready.

    The remaining pipes are made of iron, and these are in the process of being replaced by yellow pipes. He said the iron pipes are not hydrogen ready.

    Mr Hilton said hydrogen is a ‘sticky compound’ and therefore it reacts with elements in the iron pipes, rather than the yellow pipes which are non-reactive.

    The Government plans to produce five gigawatts of hydrogen by 2030 – even hoping to heat an entire town with the low-carbon fuel by the end of the decade.

    And Mr Hilton added: ‘In 2023, what will happen is it won’t suddenly switch to hydrogen. I think it’ll be a gradual change. What we need is hydrogen ready boilers.

    ‘The two that we know of are Baxi and Worcester Bosch. They can run on 100 per cent hydrogen but can also run on methane which is what we currently use.

    ‘As the hydrogen mix on the grid changes, as you have your annual service, the engineers will recalibrate – it will be seamless.’

    This graphic shows approximate locations of the National Grid UK gas transmission network

    This graphic shows approximate locations of the National Grid UK gas transmission network

    He said: ‘It’s going to be an integration and hence why we’ll go up with what we’ve got at the moment to probably 20 per cent and then we’ll slowly rise.

    Will hydrogen be dangerous in my home? If boilers are not installed correctly they could EXPLODE

    Hydrogen boilers would work in a similar way to their gas equivalents, according Boiler Guide.

    They would be installed the same way and look similar, with connection to the gas network.Boiler Guide states: ‘Only a handful of components, such as the flame detector and burner, would need to be replaced to suit hydrogen.’

    An article on the website states production is ‘not cheap,’ and warns it can emit carbon. There are also warnings about the volatile nature of hydrogen, which could result in explosions and leaks that are difficult to detect.

    Boiler Guide states: ‘Because of its high energy content, hydrogen gas is a highly flammable and volatile substance which makes it a risky fuel to work with. 

    ‘Hydrogen is incredibly flammable which makes it a dangerous fuel if not handled correctly. There is also no smell to hydrogen so sensors are required to detect leaks.’ 

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    Mr Hilton continued: ‘Boilers will slowly be made more and more hydrogen compatible, unless there’s an incentive. It has to be done safely.

    ‘If you’ve got a car with gasoline under it, that’s not exactly a safe product, and we’ve got millions of them all over the place, but it’s done in a safe way.’

    He added: ‘They will hit the market when they need to, because people won’t buy them unless they need to.’

    A Home Builders Federation spokesman said: ‘The industry is committed to working with Government to deliver its carbon saving objectives as soon as can be realistically achieved.

    ‘HBF established The Future Homes Task Force earlier this year to develop a roadmap for delivery and to oversee the establishment of a Delivery Hub to implement future plans.

    ‘The Future Homes Standard contains ambitious deadlines that pose enormous challenges for all parties involved including developers, suppliers, energy companies in terms of skills, design, energy infrastructure and the supply chain.

    ‘We will continue to engage with Government on this to ensure requirements are realistic and deliverable but any proposals to advance the timetables already set out would cause significant concern.’

    Earlier this month, the Social Market Foundation think tank called on the Government to urgently launch a campaign of public education about the need to reduce carbon emissions from British homes by replacing conventional gas boilers.

    Its researcher Amy Norman said: ‘Voters are sympathetic to the broad cause of Net Zero but they need much more information and leadership, especially when it comes to taking the carbon out of home heating.

    ‘Replacing millions of gas boilers with low-carbon alternatives is a huge and vital task, but the public are poorly prepared for the costs and disruption it could bring.

    ‘The mandatory switchover of gas heating may well be necessary to hit Net Zero on time, but it should not start until public awareness has increased and plans are in place to support low-income households with the costs of the transition.’

    How the move to net zero will change our homes in the future

    Moves to cut emissions to net zero to tackle the climate crisis will transform every part of life by the 2030s, including how we live in our homes.

    Some of the changes will not be that obvious: renewables such as offshore wind increasingly help power our homes, but we cannot tell that as we run our lights and appliances or charge gadgets.

    Appliances and lights will be highly energy efficient and could even be ‘smart’ – for example the freezer could be linked up to the grid so it can be told to power down briefly to help meet a surge in demand during a World Cup match.

    Homes will have smart meters which can encourage people to use electricity when supplies are high, or could even do so automatically, for example to charge up electric cars.

    Households with driveways and cars are likely to have a charge point on the outside of their house to power up their electric vehicle.

    But it is in heating, keeping homes warm, and even cooking where householders will most obviously feel the shift to a zero carbon world.

    Tackling climate change spells an end to the carbon polluting gas boilers that heat the majority of UK homes, as well as oil boilers which some off-grid homes currently use.

    They are most likely to be replaced by heat pumps or district heat networks which pipe hot water in underground pipes to bring heat to homes from a central source, such as an energy from waste plant or even former mines.

    Heat pumps are installed in individual houses and are powered by electricity, working a bit like a fridge in reverse to generate heat from the outside air, or sometimes the ground, to provide heating and hot water in the home.

    Air source heat pumps look like an air conditioning unit on the outside of buildings, and may need bigger radiators or underfloor heating to work best.

    They work more efficiently in buildings that are energy efficient and well-insulated – so there is a need for homes, including old, Victorian draughty properties, to be transformed to make them cosier.

    There is also potential to replace gas boilers with hydrogen, or even a hybrid of hydrogen boilers and heat pumps, but they will need efficient homes too to reduce the demand for hydrogen which has to be manufactured.

    So whatever type of house people live in and however it is heated, by the 2030s it will have to be much cosier than many are today, with double or triple glazing, draught proofing and high levels of loft and wall insulation.

    This could include external wall insulation on the outside of properties, potentially changing the look of homes.

    Just as we have to phase out gas for heating, we will also have to stop using it to cook, with gas hobs replaced by induction hobs.

    And with climate change already having an impact on life in the UK, with more intense heatwaves and an increased risk of flooding, by the 2030s homes may increasingly be fitted with measures to protect against these risks.

    They could range from tinted windows and trees planted outside to provide shade in hot conditions to removable air brick covers and treated wooden floors to prevent flooding and damage from flood water in at-risk areas.

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    A Cadent spokesman said: ‘Cadent has welcomed the ten point plan set our by the Prime Minister yesterday, acknowledging the importance of hydrogen for the future.

    ‘Through the HyDeploy trial at Keele University we have demonstrated that we are able to deliver a blend of natural gas with 20 per cent hydrogen gas now. 

    ‘And if rolled out in the U.K. now, it would reduce the carbon emissions, equivalent to taking 2.5million cars off the road, without the consumer having to replace any gas appliances.

    ‘We should clarify that ‘the ban on boilers after 2023’, refers to new houses being built. Not existing homes and not hydrogen ready boilers that are being developed.

    She added: ‘All gas distribution networks have been replacing their iron gas pipes, and at present, 80 per cent of iron pipes have been replaced with polyethylene, yellow plastic pipes. 

    ‘By the time 100 per cent hydrogen is ready to be put into the gas grid, the remaining 20 per cent iron mains will have been replaced in the proposed hydrogen hub areas. 

    ‘Making the blend of hydrogen and natural gas a good option for now and as a stepping stone towards 100 per cent hydrogen.’

    Another low-carbon alternative to gas boilers is heat pumps, with the Prime Minister putting in a target to install 600,000 heat pumps every year.

    However the pumps can cost between £10,000 and £20,000 including installation, and subsidies to encourage eco-friendly behaviour do not cover the full cost.

    Experts also fear people will not voluntarily dispose of their boilers in place of heat pumps, which can mean needing to buy larger radiators, unless they are required to.

    Jim Watson, professor of energy policy at University College London, said: ‘I suspect we won’t get anywhere near 600,000 heat pumps a year under current policies.

    ‘It would make sense for the Government to bring in a ban on gas boilers for a certain year in the future, just as they have done for petrol and diesel cars.

    ‘People might then be more likely to switch to them, and it could increase the small number of firms accredited to install heat pumps and scale up manufacture of the pumps.

    ‘The Green Homes Grant should also be extended past March 2022 to encourage more low-income homes.’

    The Green Homes Grant provides up to around £10,000 off the cost of a heat pump for low-income households, and up to £5,000 for people more able to pay, according to experts.

    But the outstanding cost, and the disruption of a day or two waiting for the heating system to be replaced, can be off-putting for people whose boiler or heating oil system already works well.

    Heat pumps, which look like air conditioning units on the outside of buildings, suck energy from the air and use it to heat a home, and are more efficient than fossil fuel technologies.

    But in order to run efficiently, heat pumps operate at lower water temperatures, which can mean families have to buy larger radiators to get the same warmth they enjoyed from water heated to around 70C (158F) through a boiler.

    Draughty older properties may also need insulation to get the benefit.

    Only around 250,000 buildings in the UK currently have heat pumps, including commercial buildings, while around 22 million have gas central heating.

    Dr Jan Rosenow, European programme director at clean energy think tank the Regulatory Assistance Project and an honorary research fellow at the University of Oxford, said: ‘Just relying on relatively small Government subsidies won’t get us to 600,000 heat pumps being installed a year.

    ‘It won’t persuade people who are perfectly happy with their energy supply to switch.

    ‘But if people were no longer able to buy gas boilers, this would drive demand much more quickly, similarly to how electric cars will take off following the announcement of the petrol and diesel car ban from 2030.’

    Plan vs Reality: How Boris’s 10-point ‘green industrial revolution’ push will take decades to deliver

     

    ELECTRIC VEHICLES 

    PM’S PLAN: Boris Johnson has vowed to ‘ban new sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2030’ . He announced £2.8billion in funding as part of his ten-point green plan, including £1.3billon on the rollout of electric car charging points.

    REALITY: The 2030 target is viewed by the industry as ‘incredibly ambitious’ with car companies facing an uphill battle to meet demand on time – and the UK charging network needing to be increased to 20 times the size it is today.

    The AA says the 2030 target is ‘incredibly ambitious’, with the three major concerns around electric cars for drivers being the initial cost of the car and availability, perceived single-charge range anxiety and charging infrastructure. 

    Only three years ago, Theresa May’s government said the ban would be implemented in 2040 – two decades from now – but Boris Johnson has brought forward the target by ten years.

    The Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders says this is now an ‘immense challenge’ for car makers who have just over nine years to switch from a century of producing vehicles with combustion engines to ones with electric motors. 

    It has also raised questions over how many people can afford – or want – to buy electric cars. Pure battery-electric new cars held only a 5.5 per cent share of the new car market in the first ten months of the year. 

    Electric vehicles are generally more expensive than conventionally-fuelled models, largely due to the cost of the battery. Many drivers fear being unable to access a charging point mid-journey. 

    RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said setting a date is ‘the easy part’. He went on: ‘What happens in the lead up to this cliff edge? And how do we create a genuinely affordable mass market in electric cars between now and 2030?’

    Currently, less than 1 per cent of the UK’s 33 million cars are plug-ins. Meanwhile experts have also warned the charging point network would have to grow by up to 20 times the level it is now.

    More than 1,200 charging devices for public use were installed in the UK between July and September, recent Department for Transport (DfT) analysis shows. That meant 19,487 devices were available on September 30.

    This is up 7 per cent from three months earlier. But Jim Holder, editorial director of What Car?, suggests the number of devices needs to be 10 or even 20 times higher than it is now to cope with the increased demand.

    Prices of petrol and diesel models may remain stable for the next few years as many people still use traditionally-fuelled cars even after the sale of new ones is banned, but the cost could drop in the years to come as people switch to electric.

    OFFSHORE WIND

    PM’S PLAN: Installing thousands of offshore turbines to produce enough energy to power every home by 2030, based on current electricity usag. Boris Johnson is also boosting the government’s previous 30GW target to 40GW.

    REALITY: The wind farm push will cost private firms £48billion in investment over the next decade and require one turbine to be built every weekday within that period – almost doubling the number currently being constructed.

    Up to £48billion of investment through the private sector is said to be needed to quadruple capacity to the Prime Minister’s target of 40 gigawatts (GW) by 2030.

    The cost of offshore wind has come down dramatically over the past ten years, with government contracts down from £150 per megawatt hour to just £40. In comparison, the cost of the Hinkley Point C nuclear contract was £92.50 per MW/hour, while the next new build Sizewell C is expected to be about £60 per MWh.

    The UK currently has a capacity of 10GW, up from 1GW in 2010, with a further 10GW already committed to be built before 2027 following government auctions. An extra 20GW is therefore needed to get to 40GW, requiring a massive ramp-up of the supply chain to hit the target in the new environmental plan. 

    The further 20GW will be allocated in a government auction planned for late 2021, but the projects wouldn’t get decisions on investments from companies involved until 2022. The workforce would then be mobilised by 2023, with the project finished by 2025 or longer – creating a four to five year time span between allocation and completion. 

    The 40GW figure can only be achieved by building 2,600 turbines producing 12MW each – the equivalent of building one each weekday throughout this decade.

    Given the time lag after awarding contracts, the construction target is 200 turbines per year in the early part of decade, but 300 per year by the late part of the 2020s. This will be a dramatic increase from the 100 to 200 turbines per year which have been built in recent years.

    Oxford-based consultancy Aurora has carried out research on the cost implications of the Government’s drive for wind farms and believes it could reduce energy bills. 

    Asked about the cost to consumers, a spokesman told MailOnline today: ‘To give a simple answer, I would say it would be roughly the same or slightly less than not doing this, and the reason for that is the cost of offshore wind has come down so dramatically to enable that.’

    HYDROGEN

    PM’S PLAN: Working with industry to generate five gigawatts of the low carbon fuel by 2030. Boris Johnson wants to ramp up production with the hope of heating an entire town with the low-carbon fuel by the end of the decade

    REALITY: Households will need to replace 25million gas boilers over the next 20 years and the switch will also see huge amounts of refurbishments required to make homes more energy efficient, such as double or triple glazing all windows.

    There is potential to replace gas boilers with hydrogen, or even a hybrid of hydrogen boilers and heat pumps, but they will need energy efficient homes to reduce the demand for hydrogen which has to be manufactured.

    Tim Harwood, who is in charge of hydrogen projects at Northern Gas Networks, which owns local gas grids in north-east England, told the Financial Times that much of the possible disruption caused would depend on hydrogen-ready boilers. 

    He said if the government would mandate these types of boilers in homes, ‘they are easily convertible to hydrogen when the time comes by just simply changing a few small parts and probably half an hour disruption’. 

    Households will need to replace 25million gas boilers over the next 20 years – and they will have to be replaced at a rate of 600,000 a year by 2028, representing a huge challenge 

    External pipeworks that delivers the hydrogen to homes and boilers will need to be changed, because hydrogen is a less dense gas – and it is often compressed and stored under high-pressure so it has sufficient energy content for processes.

    The Citizens Advice charity said new meters will also need to be made to ensure people are billed correctly, and billing methodology will also need to change to reflect the energy used in a home, rather than the volume of gas delivered.

    Another alternative to gas boilers is heat pumps or district heat networks which can pipe hot water in underground pipes to bring heat to homes from a central source, such as an energy from waste plant or even former mines.

    Heat pumps are installed in individual houses and are powered by electricity, working a bit like a fridge in reverse to generate heat from the outside air, or sometimes the ground, to provide heating and hot water in the home.  

    NUCLEAR 

    PM’S PLAN: Investing in new technology to develop mini-reactors. Decision still pending on major new power stations like Sizewell C in Suffolk. The Government has pledged £525million to develop large and small-scale nuclear plants.

    REALITYUnions say they are disappointed there was no specific reference to give the go-ahead to the development of Sizewell C, with the £525million pledge said to be a ‘drop in the ocean’ compared to the cost of the Suffolk site.

    One of the major rows brewing following the release of the Government’s ten-point environmental plan was a lack of any guidance on whether the new nuclear power station Sizewell C will be going ahead in Suffolk.

    Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson, the plant’s managing director, said Sizewell C was the only large-scale nuclear project ready to begin construction, delivering the always-on low-carbon power Britain needs.

    But Alison Downes of Stop Sizewell C said: ‘Despite heavy briefing by EDF and the nuclear industry, the Prime Minister’s 10 Point Plan has given no green light to Sizewell C, nor any suggestion on how it might be funded. The pledge of £525million to be split between large, small and advanced reactors is a drop in the ocean compared to the £20billion cost of Sizewell C.’

    The Unite union also said it was disappointed there was no specific reference to give the go-ahead to the development of Sizewell C. Assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: ‘We welcome the commitment to nuclear as an important low-carbon element of the energy mix, but we also need meat on the bones as to how these projects are to be financed and brought forward to completion.’

    Sue Ferns, deputy general secretary of the Prospect union, said: ‘The Government’s commitment to a green economy is welcome but this plan is not yet the green jobs revolution we need. All of the points in the plan are sensible, especially those on renewables, hydrogen and nuclear, but they will quickly need both detail and funding to make them into a reality.

    ‘In particular the commitment to new nuclear is important but we still need a clear commitment to building Sizewell C and a whole generation of new plants.’

    A spokesman for the Sizewell C Consortium, a group of around 150 companies, unions and other organisations backing the project, said: ‘Sizewell C is the only large-scale nuclear project that is ready to start and it will provide jobs and apprenticeships during this parliament.

    ‘It will boost the economic recovery and over the lifetime of the project will create tens of thousands of jobs in the UK industrial heartlands. We urge the Government to commit to Sizewell C.’ 

    PUBLIC TRANSPORT

    PM’S PLAN: Approving plans for a £5billion investment in buses, cycling and walking – with new cycle lanes set to benefit from a share of a £2billion fund. Plans for thousands of green buses are also included.

    REALITY: Cycle lanes have proven to be hugely controversial during the Covid-19 crisis, causing major traffic delays – so this new policy will cause fury among motorists who already feel the Government is ignoring them

    The Government is planning hundreds of miles of new cycle lanes as part of its new plan, which will anger critics of the schemes which have been implemented across the UK to encourage people onto two wheels during the pandemic.

    Under the Department for Transport’s ‘active travel’ scheme, councils have already been granted £42million in taxpayer money to turn over vast sections of road to pedestrians and bikes, and in some cases, to close them off altogether.

    Rather than improving local areas, opponents say the schemes – which are part of the £2billion plan – have worsened gridlock and pollution, caused delays for 999 services and hurt firms which rely on trade from passing traffic.

    The Alliance of British Drivers has already accused the Conservatives of waging war on motorists, but the Government has cited survey evidence suggesting eight out of ten people support measures to reduce traffic in their area. 

    JET ZERO

    PM’S PLAN: Supporting the development of the world’s first commercial zero carbon plane. Boris Johnson added that ‘we will do the same with ships’, and pointed out that it is a century since the first nonstop transatlantic flight

    REALITY: The zero carbon plane is still only a concept, with the most advanced designs produced by Airbus which are still 15 years away from entering service if everything goes to plan – and won’t even be able to travel across the Atlantic

    Boris Johnson’s announcement on planes comes two months after Airbus revealed a fleet of zero emissions aircraft which are primarily powered by hydrogen fuel and are carbon neutral.

    Airbus claims the three hydrogen-hybrid concepts will be the world’s first zero-emission commercial aircraft. The planes are called the turbofan, turboprop and the blended-wing body and are earmarked to enter service by 2035, Airbus says.

    However, one major drawback of the turbofan is that it will not be able to travel across the Atlantic. The plane will have a capacity of 200 passengers and, according to Airbus, be able to travel 2,300 miles without the need for refuelling.

    The turboprop is designed for short-haul trips and runs on propellers. The propeller-driven machine will have half the capacity of its bigger brother, the turbofan., with room for 100 people and a maximum journey of around 1,150 miles.

    EasyJet and Airbus launched a joint research project last year to consider hybrid and electric aircraft as a way of reducing the environmental impact of aviation, but the airline industry has been devastated this year by the coronavirus pandemic.

    HOMES AND BUILDINGS 

    PM’S PLAN: Making homes, schools and hospitals greener and warmer, with improved insulation and heat pumps phased in to replace conventional boilers.

    REALITY: The change towards heat pumps and even hydrogen boilers will require some significant improvements in insulation for homes, with double or triple glazing, draught proofing and high levels of loft and wall insulation.

    Tackling climate change will spell an end to the carbon polluting gas boilers that heat the majority of UK homes, as well as oil boilers which some off-grid homes currently use, but will require some serious improvements in insulation.

    They are most likely to be replaced by heat pumps or district heat networks which pipe hot water in underground pipes to bring heat to homes from a central source, such as an energy from waste plant or even former mines.

    Heat pumps are installed in individual houses and are powered by electricity, working a bit like a fridge in reverse to generate heat from the outside air, or sometimes the ground, to provide heating and hot water in the home.

    Air source heat pumps look like an air conditioning unit on the outside of buildings, and may need bigger radiators or underfloor heating to work best. They work more efficiently in buildings that are energy efficient and well-insulated – so there is a need for homes, including old, Victorian draughty properties, to be transformed to make them cosier.

    There is also potential to replace gas boilers with hydrogen, or even a hybrid of hydrogen boilers and heat pumps, but they will need efficient homes too to reduce the demand for hydrogen which has to be manufactured.

    So whatever type of house people live in and however it is heated, by the 2030s it will have to be much cosier than many are today, with double or triple glazing, draught proofing and high levels of loft and wall insulation.

    This could include external wall insulation on the outside of properties, potentially changing the look of homes. Just as we have to phase out gas for heating, we will also have to stop using it to cook, with gas hobs replaced by induction hobs.

    And with climate change already having an impact on life in the UK, with more intense heatwaves and an increased risk of flooding, by the 2030s homes may increasingly be fitted with measures to protect against these risks.

    They could range from tinted windows and trees planted outside to provide shade in hot conditions to removable air brick covers and treated wooden floors to prevent flooding and damage from flood water in at-risk areas.

    CARBON CAPTURE 

    PM’S PLAN: Becoming a world-leader in technology to capture and store harmful emissions. The Government says these developments will be backed by £1bn of government investment for clusters across the North, Wales and Scotland.

    REALITY: The main carbon capture association admits there is an ‘incredible amount of work that is needed’, and the technology is so costly and new that multiple companies are having to work together to build the systems

    One of the major problems with carbon capture systems is the technology are so expensive and modern that companies are having to work together to build them.

    Among the four hubs being given part of the £200million is Net Zero Teeside, which is a joint effort by oil companies including BP, ENI, Equinor, Shell and Total, with BP leading.

    The ambitious idea is to capture carbon dioxide, compress it, and pipe it into the North Sea to be injected into spent oil reservoirs, which would effectively trap it.

    But there will be concerns that the number of companies having to work together on a single project could lead to clashes, potentially delaying attempts to reach Government targets.

    The Carbon Capture and Storage Association, the trade body for the sector in the UK, has admitted ‘there is an incredible amount of work that is needed to enable these targets to be reached’.

    NATURE

    PM’S PLAN: Protecting and restoring the natural environment, including planting 75,000 acres of trees every year. The Government also wants to rewild 30,000 football pitches worth of countryside.

    REALITY

    Green MP Caroline Lucas has said that Boris Johnson’s environmental strategy ‘fails to rise to the gravity of this moment’.

    She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘When you put it the context of the scale of the climate and nature emergencies face, and indeed the scale of job emergencies we face, then it’s nowhere near ambitious enough.

    ‘It’s not urgent enough, it’s not bold enough – it completely fails to rise to the gravity of this moment.’ She said the scale of new investment is only a ‘fraction’ of what is needed and the strategy is ‘inconsistent’ over its protection of nature.

    ‘There are individual aspects to welcome but, as a whole, it doesn’t add up to the kind of ambitious strategy that we need,’ she said.

    INNOVATION & FINANCE

    PM’S PLAN: Developing new green technology and making the City the global centre of green finance. The Government says this will be through its sovereign bond, carbon offset markets and disclosure requirements.

    REALITY: The starting position has been made harder with London now lagging behind, having lost its crown as global green finance leader to Amsterdam and Zurich last month

    The Government has set out its plans to make the City of London the global centre of green finance, but it faces an uphill battle after the capital lost its crown as global green finance leader.

    The latest Global Green Finance Index released by the Z/Yen think tank said London had slipped behind Amsterdam and Zurich last month, having been at the helm for two years.

    The index ranked 74 financial centres across the world for their public, private and non-profit investment in sustainable development projects, according to City AM.

    Over the past three years, the amount raised in green bonds on the London Stock Exchange has almost tripled, from £8billion in 2017 to £22.4billion this year.

    But London has fallen behind Amsterdam and Zurich for green finance depth and quality, which looks at the extent of green finance markets and the quality of products that can be traded there.

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