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Government plans a blow to heat pump industry

UK: The UK heat pump industry has spoken out against government plans to relax the phase-out of fossil fuel boilers accusing it of lacking ambition and damaging business confidence.

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Wednesday, the Heat Pump Association (HPA) warned that the 2035 phase-out of fossil fuel boilers must become a firm commitment rather than an “ambition” to avoid further damage to investor, installer and consumer confidence. 

“The Government has once again moved the goalposts for heat decarbonisation in the UK, and this risks damaging investor, installer and consumer confidence in this space unless this re-confirmed end-date for fossil fuel boilers is strengthened from being an ambition to being a firm commitment,” said HPA chief executive Charlotte Lee. 

The HPA described the delay as “yet another blow to the heating industry’s confidence in government policy” after companies had invested in manufacturing facilities, training and innovation to support the heat pump deployment set out in the Government’s election manifesto and Heat and Buildings Strategy commitments.  

The association also disputed Rishi Sunak’s assertion that many homes were not suitable for a heat pump, claiming that this was not supported by the most recent findings of government-funded heat pump field trials. 

While welcoming the increase in the Boiler Upgrade Scheme grant, the HPA urged government to take steps to increase the budget to allow all those who wish to install a heat pump to benefit from the grant. “The current budget will now only support 20,000 heat pumps per year, just 3% of the 600,000 ambition for 2028,” it said.

Dangerous game

The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) accused the government of “playing a dangerous game” with business confidence.

“It has been clear for some time that political will was wavering and that there never was a coherent plan for meeting net zero targets,” said the BESA CEO David Frise.

“This constant chopping and changing on policy is hugely damaging to business confidence. It makes it much harder to persuade the relevant companies to invest in the necessary technology, processes, and skills,” he added.

Frise warned that government should also not lose sight of the fact that the push for net zero is good for business and called for an end to “government by announcement” so the engineering and construction sectors could plan with confidence.

“I still believe we can get to net zero by 2050, but it won’t be because of a series of government announcements. It will be because engineers have worked out how to do it and businesses have invested in the technologies and the talent to make it deliverable,” he said.


Fiona Hodgson, chief executive of the Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers’ Federation (SNIPEF), said that the delays would have a cascading effect on the devolved administrations’ low carbon ambitions, further confusing public messaging and embedding hesitation in business investment to the green transition.

“In recent years, the UK’s plumbing and heating sector has diligently retooled and up-skilled to be green technology transition-ready,” she said. “While this announcement offers industry and consumers a brief reprieve to help ensure the skills, infrastructure and cost efficiencies are all in place, it significantly impacts the many businesses that have made substantial investments to be policy-ready.

“The UK has an opportunity to lead the world in green technologies. Weakening our resolve jeopardises our global standing and ignores the rich economic landscape these initiatives bring,” Hodgson added.

Severe impact

Daikin UK residential sales manager Henk van den Berg said that increasing the Boiler Upgrade Scheme support to £7,500 made renewable heating more accessible but without an increase in the overall funding fewer installations would benefit.

He also criticised the continued exclusion of hybrid heat pump systems from the scheme, describing hybrid systems as “the cheapest and fastest way to decarbonise home heating”. 

 “Moving back the deadline for banning oil/LPG boilers till 2035 and the full cancellation of the landlord’s efficiency targets will have a severe impact in the mid term, van den Berg said. “This is only going to make hitting the 2050 net zero target harder and, most likely, more expensive for households. Especially as our PM failed to address the electricity levy once again, still favouring fossil fuels from a tax perspective.”

Claiming that the government had “clearly given-up” on its commitment to the installation of 600,000 heap pumps a year by 2028. 

“This is going to undermine confidence, foreign investments and will have a significant impact on the growth in green jobs,” he claimed.

Related stories:

UK government relaxes boiler phase-out plans20 September 2023
UK: In a bitter sweet announcement, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has proposed a relaxation of the gas boiler phase-out but increased the grant available under the boiler upgrade scheme. Read more…

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