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Warm welcome for £450m heat pump incentive scheme

UK: The industry has “warmly” welcomed UK government plans to provide grants of up to £6,000 to householders replacing their gas boiler with a heat pump.

The UK government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy sets out measures to increase installations of hydronic heat pumps from the current level of 35,000 a year to 600,000 per year by 2028. 

The £450m Boiler Upgrade Scheme will support the deployment of low-carbon heat in existing buildings by offering £5,000 grants for switching to an air-source heat pump or £6,000 if switching to a ground source model. In addition the government has promised to rebalance energy prices to ensure that heat pumps are no more expensive to buy and run than gas boilers.

Going beyond earlier proposals, the scheme will now run for three years from April 2022.

Welcoming the initiative, the Heat Pump Association said it hoped that it would encourage exceptional market growth over the next few years.

“The heat pump industry warmly welcomes these bold steps forward,” commented Heat Pump Association chair Phil Hurley. “The industry in the best shape it has ever been, with sales this year already double those seen ever before.

“Today’s announcement will give industry and installers a huge confidence boost that now is the time to scale-up and retrain in preparation for the mass roll out of heat pumps, as well as making heat pumps as affordable as boilers.”

The Heat and Buildings Strategy was also welcomed by the Ground Source Heat Pump Association (GSHPA). “We look forward to a consistent policy environment which will drive growth in our sector and the UK economy on the path towards achieving Net Zero,” said GSHPA chair Laura Bishop.

“Ground source heat pumps represent a long-term infrastructure asset which delivers unrivalled efficiencies in generating clean heat, and we hope the policy will underpin the mass market roll out we have been anticipating for some time.”

David Frise, CEO of contractors association BESA, welcomed the detail in the strategy document, saying that it confirmed some of the government’s earlier commitments. “However, delivering on the country’s wider low carbon pledges now requires a concerted focus on training and skills,” he said.

“Switching the industry from traditional fossil fuel solutions to more renewable and low carbon systems requires a monumental programme of reskilling and recruitment,” he said. “It also has major supply chain implications. We are not just talking about single pieces of technology here – installing a heat pump (or any fossil fuel alternative) calls for a certain approach to projects and requires installers to consider the building as a complete system.

“Someone who has spent their career installing boilers cannot just turn round and start putting in heat pumps without detailed training to understand the nuances of low temperature heating including improving building insulation.”

Related stories:

MPs call for more heat pump engineers21 December 2020
UK: The Environmental Audit Committee has warned that government plans to install 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028 could fail without more skilled engineers. Read more…

Government withdraws 2023 gas boiler ban after “mix up”21 November 2020
UK: A government pledge to ban gas boilers from new homes by 2023 has been withdrawn from its website. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s £12bn 10 point plan for a green industrial revolution, announced this week, brought forward the ban on gas boilers for new homes from 2025 to 2023 and introduced a new target to install 600,000 heat pumps every year by 2028. Read more…

Select Committee to explore UK heat pump plans20 November 2020
UK: The Environmental Audit Committee is to explore the challenges presented by the UK’s government’s plan for heat pumps in a live session next week. Read more…

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