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U-turn expected on gas boiler ban in France

Critics of the ban explain why heat pumps are not a good alternative

Installation of replacement gas central heating boilers was to be banned by 2026 Pic: Stokkete / Shutterstock

Plans to ban the installation of replacement gas central heating boilers by 2026 are expected to be dropped after the government ran into opposition from energy suppliers, boiler-makers and the building trade.

An announcement confirming this is due this month and follows a two-month consultation period, where critics of the plan were vocal in their opposition.

Read more: Should France ban new gas boilers? The case for and against

Alternative heat pumps criticised

Builders and heating engineers pointed out that heat pumps, the government’s preferred replacement for gas boilers, are unable to be installed in some buildings due to space and noise considerations.

Gas boiler-makers highlighted the contradiction of shutting down an industry largely located in Europe and in which France has several big manufacturers, in favour of heat pumps where a majority of parts are thought to come from Asia.

Another factor, they say, is the cost to consumers. Replacing an old gas boiler with a very efficient modern one averages €4,000, while a heat pump costs around €12,000.

Read more: Can I get financial help towards replacing boiler at my French home?

Calls for balance between electricity and gas

Meanwhile gas supplier Engie and distribution operator GRDF said the plan would cause an imbalance in energy supplies and an over-reliance on electricity at a time when shortages are seeing old coal-fired stations being brought back into use. 

They also argue that the emerging biogas industry will struggle if demand for gas falls.

Research into ‘hybrid’ gas and heat pump boilers

Gas boiler-makers pointed out that CO2 emissions would be reduced by as much as half if old gas boilers were replaced with a modern equivalent. 

Research is currently focussing on ‘hybrid’ boilers which combine a small heat pump with gas, the aim being to have a product which is even more efficient than modern condensing gas boilers.

Both GRDF and Engie are sponsoring research into hybrid boilers.

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