An indication of what could be around the corner for UK property can be found in the Netherlands.
Plans are being considered in Holland to phase out gas connections and the installation of gas boilers in all new premises in the Netherlands from 2021. The changes are being proposed as part of the Dutch Government's "Carbon Descent" policy to reduce carbon emissions to negligible levels by 2050 and the relatively high carbon outputs from combusting gas. Progress has already been made towards this objective. City authorities like Amsterdam have made commitments to disconnect thousands of existing supplies in existing housing and not to connect supplies to new development.
The progress of this new policy is being watched closely by industry academics and innovators in the UK. The changes are being taken seriously enough to prompt the interest of policy makers and academics as well as prompt the acceleration of research into the development of more efficient boiler technologies which are reliant on alternative fuel and power sources. Designers and developers could do well to take note and consider whether and how quickly these changes could take hold in the UK.
Eighty-nine percent of Dutch homes are heated by natural gas fired boilers; according to Eline van den Ende, residential heating accounts for ten percent of Dutch CO2 emissions. At the end of 2016, the Dutch government presented its “Energy Agenda” which indicates the policies that should lead to an almost carbon-neutral economy in 2050. With regard to emissions from buildings, the two main policies are better insulation to reduce heat demand and the replacement of natural gas by alternative fuels with lower emissions. Currently every house or residence is still legally entitled to a connection to the gas grid. This law will be annulled and replaced by a “right to a heating connection”. New houses will not be connected to the gas grid anymore in any case. The 7 million existing houses will be gradually disconnected from the gas grid.