Experts also point to the need for expensive new insulation and other home improvements to help households get the most out of the change.
The RSN raises that this is of considerable concern for rural homes which often prove to be much more expensive to implement a sufficient standard of insulation necessary to make fuel pumps a viable replacement for gas or oil fired boilers.
BBC – Heat pump grants worth £ 5,000 to replace gas boilers are not enough, critics say
The Rural Services Network reviewed key government documents and publications “Through a Rural Lens” to see how rural communities and their services are viewed.
We have reviewed the Guidance Document (BEIS) titled “Sustainable Warmth: Protecting Vulnerable Households In England”.
This guidance document was published on February 11, 2021 and “Rural” is only briefly mentioned 3 times in the document in the following contexts:
– Defra’s responsibilities include air quality and rural issues
– About 500,000 fuel-poor households live in rural areas
– The Rural Communities Energy Fund
You can download our Rural Lentil Review Document here
Revitalizing the rural world: realizing the vision is a campaign led by the Rural Services Network to challenge the government on a number of policy areas that affect rural communities.
The campaign covers a number of topics that are relevant to rural communities and one of those areas is’Decarbonize rural communities and economies‘.
The impacts of dangerous climate change will affect all communities. This is already evident from the rural impacts of the increasingly frequent damage from storms, floods and periods of drought.
Minimizing human-caused climate change is as important to rural communities and businesses as it is to others.
Rural areas, home to over a sixth of England’s population and covering most of its land area, must play their full role if the UK is to quickly reduce its carbon footprint and achieve its goal of zero net.
An approach focused on urban areas alone would fail.
The requests in the Decarbonize rural communities and economies chapter of the Revitalize the Rural World campaign can be presented below:
Economic growth programs: all of these programs should include explicit targets to support low-carbon, net-zero growth. Specialist advice and related grants should be made available to existing rural businesses to help them reduce their carbon footprint. The government should use its Covid-19 stimulus plan, A Plan for Jobs 2020, to improve energy efficiency in rural homes, especially outside the gas distribution network. This would make them greener and easier to heat, while supporting green jobs for artisans in rural areas.
Housing and renewable energies: home builders, landlords and landlords should be encouraged to install or adopt renewable or low-carbon energy technologies, which would also help tackle fuel poverty in rural areas. The recently set target for installing heat pumps is useful, but this technology will not be suitable for some properties, including many older and hard-to-decarbonize homes in rural off-grid areas that the government says are being used. a priority. The approach for renovating existing homes, including eligibility for access to the Home Retrofit Grant, must therefore cover other options such as biofuels and district heating.
Energy efficiency of housing: for maximum effect, the switch to renewables should occur at the same time as improving the energy efficiency of homes. The technology for the development of housing to Passivhaus standards exists, but the financial model needs development, especially in rural areas where development sites tend to be small and have less economies of scale. Some exemplary rural pilot programs should be supported to test the feasibility and improve the viability of the approach, paving the way for a commercial offer in line with these standards in the future.
Electric vehicle charging: recently announced government funding to accelerate the deployment of fast-charging infrastructure is welcome. It should, however, be used to improve the network of public charging stations across rural areas (including areas far from highways or national roads). Drivers in rural areas are more likely to travel further and network gaps are a practical constraint given typical ranges of electric vehicles.
Rural buses: The introduction of buses using electric battery or hydrogen fuel cell technologies involves significant investments, both in new vehicles and in depot refueling facilities. This can be difficult to justify in rural areas unless ridership of bus services grows. Current electric buses also have limited range which will be insufficient for some rural routes. A full review of the power grid and, where applicable, the hydrogen supply is needed to avoid punitive upgrade costs in rural areas.
Electricity network capacity: the path to net zero will significantly stimulate demand for electricity, especially for heating homes and recharging cars. Government and the energy industry must ensure that electricity distribution networks, substations and connections are fit for purpose. This will be particularly relevant in rural areas, where infrastructure is often less robust.
Local energy networks: The government is expected to provide additional funding to initiate the development of decentralized energy grids in rural areas, where they typically face higher costs due to low population and housing density. This would support the growth of networks based on local production of renewable energy or combined heat and power technologies. These could also help retain money in local rural economies and support local jobs.
Local services: it should be remembered that one of the most effective ways to reduce carbon emissions in rural areas is to maintain and, if possible, expand local services, such as food stores, post offices , schools, general practitioners’ offices and transport networks. Likewise, providing good digital connectivity will reduce the need for rural residents to travel and allow working from home. Public transport, digital, regional planning, civic action, education and health policies all have a role to play.