Heat pumps will play a critical role in tackling emissions from London’s buildings and delivering the mayor’s 2030 net-zero ambitions, says a report by the Carbon Trust.
The study, Heat Pump Retrofit in London, commissioned by the Mayor of London, includes detailed analysis of the potential to retrofit heat pumps across a range of existing buildings in London and recommends an action plan for scaling up energy efficiency and heat pump retrofit across the capital.
The report will assist guide local authorities, social housing providers and others considering a heat pump retrofit, highlighting the principles of good practice system design.
Decarbonising heat is London’s biggest challenge to achieving net-zero emissions.
Natural gas, used mainly for heating buildings and water, accounts for 37 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions in London.
To achieve the mayor’s net-zero target by 2030, London will need to make a rapid transition from gas to low-carbon heat solutions, most of which will be retrofitted into existing buildings, as at least 80 per cent of buildings are expected to still be standing in 2050.
Heat pump systems have the potential to deliver immediate carbon emission savings of 60-70 per cent compared with conventional electric heating and 55-65 per cent when compared with an efficient gas boiler.
As the grid decarbonises further in coming decades these carbon savings are expected to increase to 90-100 per cent of carbon emissions by 2050.
But heat pumps are not a like-for-like replacement for gas boilers and good practice system design will be essential to their effective deployment. The report contains guidance for building owners on the technical options for installation and the principles of good practice system design in heat pump retrofit.
Additionally, a prerequisite for the roll-out of heat pumps in many buildings will be improved thermal energy efficiency, which is likely to require significant investment from central government, alongside investment and coordination with local authorities and the private sector. Retrofitting energy-efficiency measures, combined with heat pumps, provides multiple benefits including reducing energy bills, and enabling the heat pump to operate more efficiently.
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