MPs write open letter asking for heat pumps and solar panels to be mandatory in new homes

Solar panels being installed
A group of MPs are pushing for more uptake of solar power (Image credit: Getty Images)

A Parliamentary environmental group has advised that heat pumps and solar panels should be a minimum requirement for new UK homes from 2025 onwards.

Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has asked MPs to commit to backing ground and air source heat pumps and other renewables as part of the Future Homes Standard, a set of rules that will come into effect from 2025 to ensure new homes produce fewer carbon emissions.

It is already expected that no new homes will be able to connect to the gas network from 2025 as part of the Future Homes Standard.

What does the open letter say?

The EAC sent an open letter to Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, outlining the benefits of renewables.

It describes solar as a “mature technology”, adding: “Not only can solar PV make a significant contribution to the UK achieving its goal of decarbonising the power sector by 2035; it can also enhance overall energy security and reduce the burden of high energy costs for households and businesses.”

It also warns that “a dark cloud of delay hangs over the industry” and identified difficulties in securing grid connections, training, funding and legislation. In some cases, the letter states, customers are having to wait ten to fifteen years to secure a connection for potential solar installations.

It adds: “This is not only holding back the UK from achieving its decarbonisation goals, but it is also hampering the economy by preventing businesses and households from investing in solar PV installations to reduce their energy costs.”

The EAC wants politicians to work with Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) and National Grid to provide short-term solutions to unblock the pipeline of delays and deliver long-term fixes to improve grid connections.

An image of the open letter sent to Grant Shapps

You can read a PDF of the letter in full on the website (Image credit: Environmental Audit Committee)

Why do MPs want these to be mandatory?

In a related report – Accelerating the transition from fossil fuels and securing energy supplies – the EAC argued that low-carbon solutions like solar and air source heat pump installation deliver synergies between affordability, security, and sustainability.

It said: “Researchers from the University of Liverpool told us that solar photovoltaic technology was currently on par with onshore wind as the cheapest ways to generate low carbon electricity, with the cost of energy continuing to fall over time.”

It also highlights that renewable energy, onshore wind and solar can be built within one to two years, as opposed to a decade for nuclear.

In the letter, the EAC states: “We recommend that the Future Homes Standard incorporate installation of solar PV and heat pumps as a minimum requirement for newly constructed housing.”

How likely is it that the proposals will go ahead?

An independent review of the UK Government’s net-zero led by MP Chris Skidmore stated the UK has made “great progress” decarbonising, but added: “However, too often, we heard of problems hampering business and local areas from going as far and as fast as they want to.”

The letter states that deployment of rooftop solar needs to double, and researchers from the University of Liverpool have estimated that an average monthly installation rate of 361 MWp (megawatt peak, a solar power measure used in the industry) would be required – far higher than current levels.

However, the researchers argued that Germany achieved a rate of solar installation of 680 MWp per month in 2011 and 2012.

Sam Webb

Sam is based in Coventry and has been a news reporter for nearly 20 years. His work has featured in the Mirror, The Sun, MailOnline, the Independent, and news outlets throughout the world.  As a copywriter, he has written for clients as diverse as Saint-Gobain, Michelin, Halfords Autocentre, Great British Heating, and Irwin Industrial Tools. During the pandemic, he converted a van into a mini-camper and is currently planning to convert his shed into an office and Star Wars shrine.