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The heat pump ball is starting to roll, installers must seize the opportunity

On the 29th June, the Climate Change Committee's (CCC) 2022 Monitoring Framework report was published, tracking the Government's progress in meeting carbon reduction targets. The report states that heat pumps are likely to provide the majority of heat supply in the future, which, says Griff Thomas from GTEC, is a golden opportunity for installers.

'According to the CCC report, the Government estimates that 80% of the 2030s workforce is already in employment, i.e. the existing pool of building services tradespeople are integral to future heat pump demand; an exciting proposition for installers already trained or planning to upskill,' says Griff.

'Even before the introduction of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS), heat pump installations were rising rapidly, up 47% compared to last year. The report states, however, that progress needs to accelerate at greater speed if we are to meet our decarbonisation targets.

'Momentum is building and these are the factors at play:

BUS is an initial push, not the answer to mass deployment

'The report states that there were 54,000 new heat pump installations in domestic dwellings across the UK in 2021, marking a 47% increase on the previous year. Looking forward, the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) will fund just 30,000 installations per annum for the next 3 years. It's clear from these figures that a significant number of installations are not reliant on any grant funding.

'Rather than a policy for mass deployment, the BUS is an initial step in building consumer confidence and developing the market. It's part of a long-term response that secures a ‘holding pattern' ahead of 2025, following which we can expect to see some meaningful policies designed to hit the 2028 target of 600,000 heat pumps a year.

A reduction in upfront costs is essential for long-term success

'Cost is a great barrier to heat pump installation, but why is it so expensive to buy a heat pump? There are two factors at play here, small production runs and the cost of R&D.

'R&D is a significant investment with any new technology which manufacturers must recoup. To facilitate essential R&D, the government is providing £60 million of funding through the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP) to improve the efficiency of heat pump manufacturing and develop ‘smart grid ready' products.

'These smart capabilities, combined with an increase in demand driven in-part by the market-based mechanism from 2024, will see the supply chain stabilise and upfront costs significantly reduced (25% - 50%) before 2030.

Running costs must achieve parity with gas boilers

'According to CCC estimates, the average heating bill is around 10% higher for a heat pump than gas but these figures should be taken with a pinch of salt considering the recent changes we've seen in the energy sector. While the unit price of electricity is higher than gas, a heat pump will produce at least three times the amount of heat per kWh compare with a gas boiler.

'The CCC suggests removing levies from electricity which would directly reduce heat pump running costs. To achieve true parity, all heat pumps need to be intelligent enough to communicate with the smart network, which would allow consumers to take advantage of reduced rate ‘heat pump tariffs'.

'There is so much money being pumped into this area and I believe we will see vast improvements in heat pump connectivity well before 2028.

Thousands of skilled heat pump installers needed!

'The heat pump deployment challenge is a golden opportunity for heating installers. Progress is set to scale-up rapidly over the next few years as policies and technological developments accelerate the low-carbon sector forward. Thousands of new heat pump installers are required to deliver this large-scale change - it's time for heating installers to get excited about the future.'

4 July 2022

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