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Manufacturers throw weight behind Heat and Buildings Strategy

Heating manufacturers have broadly backed the Government's newly released Heat and Buildings Strategy, though some believe it could have gone further.

Under government plans householders in England and Wales will be eligible for a £5,000 grant to install low carbon heating such as heat pumps.

Shaun Edwards, chief executive, Groupe Atlantic UK, ROI & North America, said: 'Ideal Heating welcomes the publication of the Heat and Buildings strategy and the continued support from the UK government to low carbon heating systems, particularly heat pumps. As a manufacturer of multiple heating technologies including heat pumps, we feel we are in an excellent position to support our customers as the market transitions to lower carbon heating solutions.

'This commitment from the UK government allows Ideal Heating to continue investment in UK heat pump R&D facilities and skills, as well as additional manufacturing capacity, ensuring we meet the specific demands of UK homes and installers whilst strengthening the local supply chain.'

Russell Deane, head of residential heating and ventilation at Mitsubishi Electric, said: “Mitsubishi Electric welcomes the Government’s drive to reduce the cost of heat pumps, and its recognition of the role that such technologies can play in the decarbonisation of our housing stock. If we are to stand any chance of reaching our Net Zero goals, the way we heat our buildings must change and heat pumps are a big part of this.

“To ensure the costs continue to drop for the consumer we must now see a concerted effort to train up a nationwide network of installers that can deliver on this new opportunity. This can be done by upskilling gas boiler engineers and installers to ensure they are not left behind as the country moves towards a growth in green jobs and heat pumps receive the backing of the big energy network providers.”

Oliver Baker, chief executive of Ambion Heating said: “The long-awaited Heat and Buildings Strategy outlines somewhat modest plans to decarbonise the UK’s housing stock, although the commitment for all new heating systems to be low-carbon by 2035 is obviously a welcome move. However, in reality, the new funding will only cover around 30,000 heat pumps a year (for three years) compared with the 1.5 million gas boilers to replace each year.  So, it is clear that this policy announcement only scratches the surface and we still have a long way to go to deliver net zero in our homes.

“The market knows that heat pumps are not a one-size-fits-all solution. The UK has a hugely diverse range of housing stock and research has shown that heat pumps aren’t feasible for around 40% of properties, representing 8-12 million homes. Many of these homes will be social housing which therefore need alternative super-efficient electric heating technologies to achieve net zero without plunging residents into fuel poverty. 

“On a positive note, the Government has acknowledged that a mix of new, low-carbon heating solutions will be required for different property types in different parts of the country.  These need to include electric systems which provide heat-pump levels of energy efficiency but at lower cost and across all house types. Computer-controlled infrared (CCIR) is one such technology.

Karen Boswell OBE, managing director at Baxi Heating said: “This important document details a roadmap for the decarbonisation of heat which the industry can, and must, support.

“We firmly believe that all viable technologies have a place, including electrification, hydrogen, and deployment of low carbon heat networks. BEIS is wise to leave these options open as it is abundantly clear that no single solution will deliver net-zero.

“One key part of the strategy is the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, designed to encourage the uptake of heat pumps. In our recently published white paper on this subject[2] we highlighted that the £4,000 per installation grant originally consulted upon may not be sufficient to close the affordability gap. Therefore, we are pleased to see a higher grant level of £5,000 grant taken forward in the Strategy.”

Iain Bevan, commercial manager of heating & renewables at Daikin UK, said: “We believe that sustainable heating should be accessible for all, and we welcome the funding announced in the Boiler Upgrade Scheme.

“We look forward to finding out more about who will be eligible and which sustainable heating systems are covered. We believe that hybrid systems, where a heat pump works alongside a gas boiler, should be included as they are a vital stepping-stone for those who are new to renewable technology, and can still reduce household CO2 emissions by as much as 55% compared to a traditional gas boiler.

“We know that many homeowners will appreciate this up-front funding, but for anyone able to have a heat pump installed before April 2022, we still believe that the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive is a very good option and will provide a higher level of subsidy over the system’s lifespan.

“Whilst any incentives that remove the financial barriers to heat pump adoption are a positive step, we think the Government should be going further to ensure that the technology can be rolled out at the scale that is needed. We urge the Government to look again at support for home insulation schemes, and to urgently address the fuel levy that continues to subsidise gas rather than electricity.”

Carl Arntzen, chief executive of Worcester Bosch, said: “Although the Government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy does look like a clear indication of ongoing investment, it doesn’t go far enough.

“When considering a heat pump there are many factors to assess which are not considered here, such as the property’s suitability. A home may need to be adapted to accommodate a heat pump, such as resizing radiators and making space for hot water cylinders, which carry cost implications. Therefore, the proposed grants may help with the cost to purchase a heat pump, but there will still be costly investment required from homeowners in existing properties.

“As for boilers, the strategy does not refer to any legislation behind a boiler ban, so it’s not surprising that there is confusion among installers and homeowners.

“Whilst it is encouraging to see that hydrogen is still on the agenda and is referred to within the Strategy, it is a shame to see that a decision around hydrogen won’t be made until five years from now. With hydrogen-ready boilers already successfully trialled, they could be a strong alternative to fossil fuel boilers on the market today – yet this strategy seems to omit them.

“We are committed to the decarbonisation of heating and hot water in the UK and will continue to work with Government and industry to offer a technology agnostic future, while educating and inspiring homeowners to make greener choices for home heating.”

Mark Wilkins, technologies and training director from Vaillant said: “Time is of the essence when it comes to decarbonisation, and heat pumps are the best way to decarbonise today. Hydrogen will be a low carbon solution but more tests need to be carried out before we can successfully roll out hydrogen for heating. In the future, there will be a mix of both hydrogen-fuelled boilers and heat pumps as there is no silver bullet to lowering carbon emissions of the UK’s diverse housing stock.

“Vaillant is committed to going above and beyond to help the UK reach its Net Zero target. We have made significant investment in this area, for example, next year we will be manufacturing heat pumps in our factory in Belper, Derbyshire to help facilitate the increasing demand for these products.

“The number of heat pump installers needs to increase substantially in order to support the ambitions laid out in the Heat and Buildings Strategy and the Government’s levelling up agenda. Vaillant has the capacity to upskill our excellent base of heating installers with the necessary skills to install heat pumps. This does however come at a cost to installers as they have to lose valuable income when undertaking training courses and we urge the Government to take the necessary steps to recognise and incentivise those wishing to embark on the necessary training to become low carbon installers.

“We look forward to working with Government to support their ambitions and contributing to the forthcoming consultations to ensure the UK meets its 2050 net-zero target.”

Graham Russell, managing director of heating and cooling systems manufacturer, Viessmann, said: “Given the diversity of the UK building stock and consumer base, we are delighted that the Strategy encompasses a mix of policies to promote heat pumps, hydrogen heat, heat networks and energy efficiency as well as new funding giving the industry a framework to push forward with innovative solutions.

“We think it is key that the new schemes announced as part of the Strategy, such as the £450m Boiler Upgrade Scheme to replace the domestic RHI, should incrementally drive low carbon heat markets further. 2021 has been a year of growth for the heat pump market and the new scheme should be designed to deliver additional heat pump installations in segments of the retrofit market where heat pumps would not have otherwise been fitted.

“Viessmann is prepared by investing heavily in the technologies and skills of the future. As a leader in both electricity and hydrogen-led heating as well as conventional boiler efficiency and heat networks, we are committed to providing Net Zero compatible solutions for all homes and buildings.”

19 October 2021

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