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National Infrastructure Assessment; the recommendations

Heat pumps, not hydrogen, are the only way to decarbonising the housing stock, says the National Infrastructure Commission

The National Infrastructure Commission second national infrastructure assessment sets out recommendations to government for the next 30 years

Specific recommendations include providing a subsidy of £7,000 per property owner for installing a heat pump. Given that the grant goes up to £7,500 next week, it looks like this report has been at the printers a long time. Most recommendations have not been overtaken by events, however.

It says government should not support the rollout of hydrogen heating; electric heat pumps are the only viable option for decarbonising buildings at scale, the commission believes.

“Infrastructure solely for hydrogen heating should not be eligible for support under the hydrogen transport business model and today’s gas users should not be expected to pay for the conversion of natural gas infrastructure to transport hydrogen through existing price controls,” it says.

“Government should by 2024 have in place a business model to support hydrogen fired generation and ensure that by 2030 multiple large scale power stations are deployed for both gas generation with carbon capture and storage and hydrogen fired generation. By 2035, deployment of low carbon gas generation should be sufficiently scaled to provide 30TWh of persistent flexible generation to manage the potential for prolonged shortfalls during winter. Government should target establishing a minimum of eight TWh of large scale hydrogen storage to be in operation by 2035.”

It says that government should reduce energy demand from buildings by: extending the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund to deliver £5.1bn of capital spending on energy efficiency improvements between 2024 and 2030 and devolve directly to local authorities to deliver the programme;  continuing the obligation on energy companies to install energy efficiency improvements in households on lower incomes, delivering £8.8bn of capital spending between 2024 and 2035; providing zero per cent financing for households and small businesses for the cost of energy efficiency installations; and setting out, by the end of 2025, a plan to tighten and enforce minimum standards in the private rented sector”.

It says that the government’s first priority for roads should be “to maintain the existing network by investing adequately in maintenance and renewal, including to ensure proportionate resilience to climate change impacts”. When it comes to new infrastructure schemes, those within cities should be prioritised over those that connect cities, it suggests.

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