Heat pump hell: Owners sent horror warning over boiler alternatives amid blackout threat

Boris Johnson discusses introduction of heat pumps to UK homes

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Heat pumps are a carbon-free alternative to gas boilers which the Government is attempting to roll out as it scrambles to wean the country off fossil fuels. They work like a refrigerator in reverse, moving heat from the air or ground outside a building to its inside, through the circulation of a refrigerant. But the devices use electricity to compress this refrigerant, meaning they are connected to the energy grid.

This could pose a huge problem amid concerns that energy networks are nearing capacity, with no spare capacity for new connections to the electricity grid until 2035, according to the Financial Times.

This has sparked “real concerns” that any expansion of the energy network could cause power outages, according to Erica Malkin from the Stove Industry Alliance (SIA).

Ms Malkin told Express.co.uk: “There is a cautionary message with heat pumps, in that they are entirely grid dependent.

“We are already seeing these reports of concerns about the expansion of the energy network and the energy grid and the very real potential for power outages.

“There have also been concerns about new build properties and whether the energy grids will actually cope. There is some suggestion that there is going to be a block put on new build properties in the London area because of concerns that the energy grid simply will not cope.

“The electrification of heat is a sound argument when it comes to carbon-saving, but when it comes to grid dependency, we are nowhere near the targets for what would be needed to entirely electricity heat in this country.”

But while heat pumps may not suffice in a power cut, Ms Malkin says that wood-burning stoves may help keep your homes warm.

She told Express.co.uk: “Having a wood-burning stove would certainly mean that people have the ability to heat their homes in the event of a blackout.

“A wood-burning stove is completely independent of anything. You would not be without heat if there was to be this situation.”

Experts have also suggested that homeowners installing heat pumps could push up electricity demand, putting even more strain on local networks.

Guy Newey, the head of Energy Systems Catapult, warned that if the extra demand leaves areas unable to cope, power outages could be a real risk.

He said: “The truth is, the overall electricity system is creaking a bit.”

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Mr Newey added: “If we’re serious about net zero targets we have to build ahead of need, otherwise you’ll keep getting stories like west London.”

Mr Newey was referring to the ban developers are considering for new housing projects due to the fears of the electricity grid running out of capacity.

The Greater London Authority has warned that it could take over a decade to ramp up grid capacity before it is safe enough for new developments to be allowed across three boroughs – Hillingdon, Ealing and Hounslow.

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