Pathway to achieving a low carbon future – why electricians have a vital role to play | GTEC

Pathway to achieving a low carbon future – why electricians have a vital role to play | GTEC

GTEC’s Griff Thomas explains why UK electricians have an important role to play in a low carbon future, regardless of what happens with heat and power.

2022 was a significant year. We’ve (largely) moved on from the disruption caused by COVID, there’s been three Prime Ministers, the Queen sadly died, Russia’s war in Ukraine has shocked Europe and contributed to the next big shake-up – dramatic hikes in energy prices.

Theses hikes, plus the race to Net Zero and general economic uncertainty have pushed the green agenda higher up in our consciousness and it looks like there is no going back. We have to find low carbon (and more cost-effective) ways to heat and power our lives.

What does a low carbon future look like?

Heat pumps are clearly a big part of the picture, something that affects electricians and heating and plumbing installers alike. If you have a foot in the ‘other side’ of building services, then talks of ‘gas boiler bans’ earlier in the year may have put the wind up you. With 85% of UK homes heated by gas, the traditional boiler is here to stay, at least until existing systems need replacing – newly installed boilers are likely to last for 20 years+, so the decline of this stalwart of British heating will be gradual.

Apart from heat pumps, a seemingly big contender to replace the gas boiler is hydrogen. In fact, in October, Jacob Rees-Mogg, said that hydrogen was a “silver bullet” for heating people’s homes. The truth is there is no silver bullet. In reality, this alternative to natural gas will make up a very small proportion of future heating demand. Recent studies show hydrogen to be expensive and largely unworkable.

A report issued by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) Charitable Foundation in September said while hydrogen does have a role to play in hard-to-abate sectors, such as long-distance transport and heavy industry, using 100% hydrogen would increase the cost of home heating by 70% by 2050 compared to natural gas.

While it is more likely that the UK will adopt a hydrogen blend, at the moment 95% of hydrogen production relies on natural gas reforming. And, according to the Hydrogen Science Coalition, a heat pump with assumed COP of 3.0 powered by 100kWh of renewable electricity delivers 600% more heat than a green hydrogen boiler using the same electricity.

All avenues lead to electric

Put simply, electricity is the answer; as long as we can create enough of it! More and more of the power generated by the national grid comes from renewable sources, and spurred on by ever rising fuel bills, demand for home solar PV is quite literally ‘through the roof’. Back in August, Solar Energy UK reported a three-fold increase in PV installations compared with 2020, a trend that will continue into 2023 and beyond.

Combine solar PV with battery storage, a heat pump and electric vehicle and you’ve got a self-sufficient home, something that appeals to more people than ever before. As an electrician, you’re in the perfect position to capitalise on a green future.

GTEC delivers a range of renewable courses designed for experienced electricians, including solar PV installation, electric vehicle charging and battery storage.

Get more course details and find your latest GTEC centre here

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