We must all continue busting net zero myths

Lucy Dixon
Head of Content

The most read article on the elemental website last month was this piece about debunking heat pump misconceptions, where Vaillant sets out to show that heat pumps will work efficiently in properties that people believe are unsuitable for the technology.

The work done by companies like Vaillant, and projects such as Heat Pump Ready, is vital, as myths and misinformation about heat pumps – and other parts of the net zero puzzle – continue to circulate.

Just this week, a BBC documentary, Heat Pumps: What They Really Mean For You, sparked lots of discussion on social media, but it didn’t seem to have changed anyone’s mind either way – heat pump enthusiasts remain enthusiastic and those against heat pumps claim that anything positive is evidence of a media bias.

Simon Roberts, Heatio’s Founder, had this to say about the show:

The show made valid points about the potential pressure on the national grid once the UK fully transitions to electric heating, such as heat pumps. However it failed to touch on the potential for homeowners to fuel heat pumps with self-generated solar electricity in the home, which would reduce demand on the grid and reduce carbon emissions even further.

One thing that was made clear is that the government needs to remove some of the obvious barriers to switching to renewable heat. The biggest one being the decoupling of green levies from electricity bills to gas bills. This would level the playing field and incentivise people to use electrically driven forms of heating and a big disincentive to the continued uptake of gas appliances.

Without this kind of joined up thinking, homeowners will continue to be dependent on heat pump prices becoming more affordable, meaning the target of 600,000 heat pump installations a year in the next five years is a real challenge.

Further coverage on development of innovative green finance solutions to fund renewable technologies, such as heat pumps, would have been useful for viewers, showing that we are developing quickly in a highly innovative way to ensure we catch up to our European neighbours.

Myths are also being tackled in a new report from the Net Zero APPG: Net Zero Myth Busting Report: 23 for ’23 outlines and challenges the most common objections to net zero. It covers key policy areas and technologies from carbon capture and storage (CCS) to retrofit and green hydrogen and you can have a read here.

The report calls for a “clear and coherent communications strategy from the UK government”, which may well be the biggest challenge of them all, with a seemingly constant flurry of contradictory views fuelling the scepticism for net zero.

Recently this has included Rishi Sunak supporting new oil and gas licenses in the North Sea, while Chris Skidmore MP, author of Mission Zero, the review into the government’s approach to reaching net zero by 2050, said the move is on “the wrong side of history”.

He said:

It is on the wrong side of a future economy that will be founded on renewable and clean industries, and not fossil fuels. It is on the wrong side of modern voters who will vote with their feet at the next general election for parties that protect, and not threaten, our environment. And it is on the wrong side of history, that will not look favourably on the decision taken today.

How do we tackle mistrust in renewable technologies and net zero, when the politicians stir up such confusion? By doing work like Vaillant and providing a solid evidence base of efficient installations, satisfied customers and performance data, illustrating the realities of low-carbon technologies.

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