The UK Government has been told to ensure clean electricity becomes cheaper than gas to heat homes as Patrick Harvie launches his contentious plans to "supercharge the move to heat pumps".

The Scottish Government’s zero carbon buildings minister will launch his consultation on legislation for his heat in buildings strategy that was first published in 2021.

Under the strategy, newly-built properties will be banned from installing gas boilers from April 2024.

By 2028, private rented homes will need to meet the new EPC C standards which will take the heating system such as a boiler or a heat pump into account, while the same rules will apply for all domestic homes by 2033 – ahead of all buildings being on zero direct emissions heating systems by 2045.

High energy efficiency standards are crucial for heat pumps to be as effective as possible.

But the estimated cost of converting all buildings to have sustainable heating systems as part of Scotland’s 2045 net zero target is at least £33 billion, while the Scottish Government has only pledged £1.8 billion so far – with the majority expected to come from the private sector.

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Ahead of the consultation on his draft legislation, which is due to be rolled out in 2025, the chief executive of the Climate Change Committee (CCC), has called on the UK Government to update the pricing of electricity and gas to “super-charge” heat pumps.

The majority of electricity generation in Scotland comes from renewable sources and is seen as a simple method of cleaning up other parts of the economy such as electric cars.

Currently, electricity in the UK costs more than gas, due to taxes and levies including carbon taxes on electricity but not gas, making the electricity-to-gas ratio cost high.

In order for heat pumps to reduce costs, energy efficiency measures such as upgrading windows and installing insulation are usually required.

Heat pumps, when fully installed along with energy efficiency measures, reduce the demand for energy and therefore use less electricity to heat a home.

It is thought deployment of heat pumps could reduce energy demand across residential buildings by up to 40%.

Read more: UK heat pumps information war is typical climate delay

A study from the UK Energy Research Centre, published this year, warned that “the potential efficiency gains of switching to heat pumps do not fully translate to monetary savings in households’ bills”.

The report stresses that “heat pumps are almost three times more energy efficient on average than gas boilers”, but warns that “historically, electricity has been more expensive than gas”.

The UK Government told The Herald that rebalancing the price between electricity and gas was a “long-term” ambition.

CCC chief executive Chris Stark, the Scottish Government’s former director of energy and climate change, told MPs on the Commons Environmental Audit Committee: “The most important policy of all for achieving net zero, particularly over the next 10 years would be to make electricity cheaper than fossil fuels.

The Herald: Climate Change Committee chief executive, Chris StarkClimate Change Committee chief executive, Chris Stark (Image: PA)

“If you could do that in a broad way, you would supercharge the move to heat pumps, for example, or to electric cars, or the use of electricity in industry in a way that you would struggle, frankly, with line-by-line incentives.”

Mr Harvie has made similar calls in recent months.

Writing in the Scottish Government’s heat in buildings strategy update, published last month, the Scottish Greens co-leader claimed that “the UK Government still fails to match Scotland’s ambition”.

Pointing to Rishi Sunak watering down net zero policies including requirements for renewable heating in England, Mr Harvie added: “Its recent decisions to roll back on existing net zero commitments represent a betrayal of current and future generations, and present serious implications for Scotland’s climate ambitions.

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“The UK Government must urgently publish its proposals for rebalancing gas and electricity prices, make progress on a clean heat market mechanism, including requirements on suppliers to install zero emissions heating, and bring forward its decision on the future of the gas grid."

The progress report insists that the Scottish Government will continue to press Tory ministers in London to “follow through on its commitment to publish proposals to rebalance energy bill costs, while ensuring those at risk of fuel poverty are supported, so that the running costs of clean heating systems are comparable to fossil fuel systems”.

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A Department for Energy Security and Net Zero spokesperson said: “We are looking at a range of options for longer-term energy market reform, including the rebalancing of gas and electricity prices.

“Our main priority, however, remains making sure energy bills more affordable. That’s why we’re running the Energy Price Guarantee to April next year and continuing to support the most vulnerable, with three million households expected to benefit from the £150 Warm Home Discount, £900 for those on means-tested benefits, and an extra £150 for disabled people.

“We are also working in ensuring we boost our energy security and lower our exposure to volatile gas prices by continuing to a build a strong, home-grown renewable energy alongside tapping into our domestic oil and gas supply in the North Sea.”