As the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund opens to applications, Kensa Contracting is urging local authorities and housing associations in England to act now and bid for a portion of the £160 million available in 2021/22 to install highly efficient low carbon ground source heat pumps to tackle climate change and protect their tenants from fuel poverty.
There is an 8-week application window for the first wave of the Social Housing Fund funding bids, beginning on 23rd August and ending on 15th October. To help capitalise on this opportunity, Kensa Contracting will be delivering free CPD sessions showcasing the benefits of ground source heat pumps in social housing with large-scale retrofit case studies and demonstrating how the technology is eligible under the scheme.
Kensa can also support local authorities in making a bid by delivering desktop feasibility studies of building stock to help identify ‘retrofit-ready’ projects, and providing estimates for the investment budgets and potential grant amounts needed for installing ground source heating systems.
The UK government has committed to reducing emissions to net-zero by 2050, and over 10 years, the Social Housing Fund will potentially provide up to £3.8 billion in subsequent funding waves to encourage local authorities in England to retrofit measures such as low-carbon heating and insulation to increase energy efficiency and decarbonise their housing stock.
The primary objective of the Social Housing Fund scheme is to upgrade a significant amount of England’s 4.1m social homes to an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of C by 2030. Currently, nearly 40% of properties fall below this, with fuel poverty posing a serious risk for residents when high fuel bills mean tough choices between heating or eating.
Under the scheme’s guidelines, low carbon heating, including ground source heat pumps, can be installed where a ‘fabric first approach is taken’. Electrically-powered ground source heat pumps are sustainable, non-combustion devices generating no point of use emissions or pollution, and have been highlighted by government as a key part of the UK’s strategy to decarbonise heat, of which 37% of total UK carbon emissions are attributed to.
Using freely available heat energy from the ground, a ground source heat pump can deliver 3 to 4 kilowatts (kW) of heat for every 1kW of electricity it consumes, making it highly efficient. While modern condensing boilers can be up to 90% efficient, a ground source heat pump can achieve efficiencies of 400%, without the carbon emissions or air pollution created by burning fossil fuels.
The government’s 10-point-plan to put the UK back on track to meet its net-zero carbon target by 2050, states the aim to have 600,000 heat pump installations every year by 2028, and the Committee for Climate Change (CCC) has suggested this figure should even be increased to 900,000. This will require a massive scaling up of ground source heat pump installations, and Kensa believes that a Shared Ground Loop Array infrastructure is the key to achieving this.