Centre for Net Zero: Government must act to accelerate heat pump roll out

An early boiler ban announcement, wide-ranging consumer awareness campaigns and comprehensive installer training programs hold the key to driving heat pump uptake and delivery on the government’s building decarbonisation goals.

That is the conclusion of new research today from the Center for Net Zero, which warns that without a bolder near-term government intervention, the UK will fall short of its heat pump installation target, which will in turn put the country’s net zero by 2050 goal. at risk.

Heating accounts for 16 per cent of UK greenhouse gas emissions and approximately 35 per cent of total energy consumption. As such, the government’s stated ambition is to install 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028 as outlined in its Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution is widely regarded as critical to meeting its wider climate goals.

However, current figures show fewer than 30,000 heat pumps are being installed annually and while the government has introduced a new grant scheme and VAT tax cuts to help drive up adoption of heat pumps, many industry insiders fear the installation target is at risk of being missed without additional policy interventions.

The Center for Zero’s findings largely endorse these concerns, arguing that while the target can be met additional investment and policy support is required to rapidly increase installation rates.

Titled Hitting the Target: A simulation-based assessment of interventions required to meet UK Government ambition for heat pump installations by 2028the report highlights how potential policy actions or combinations of policy actions could accelerate the low carbon technology’s uptake.

Its modeling indicated that the government’s new Boiler Upgrade Schemewhich opens for applications todaywill not generate sufficient uptake on its own, even when resulting technology learning and harvest of scale effects are taken into account.

However, it argues that a combination of grant funding and other measures, such as a clear and early target date for banning the sale of new boilers, public communication campaigns to promote heat pumps, and major new training programmes, could ensure the target is met .

“Our research findings are striking, and show clear and actionable paths for government,” said Lucy Yu, CEO of Center for Net Zero. “It should be possible to hit and even exceed the government’s 2028 target for heat pump installations, but only if the right actions are taken, and quickly enough. At a time when governments around the world are looking for ways to reduce their dependence on imported Natural gas, the move to fossil-fuel alternatives to heat our homes is more important than ever.While our modeling is based on UK data, we know that similar barriers to heat pump uptake elsewhere exist and so our findings have important implications for governments in European countries and beyond.”

The report’s arrival comes a week after the Dutch government announced a ban on the sale of new gas boilers from 2026 that should heat pumps become the standard option for heating homes in the country. The move follows similar plans from the German coalition government which should see heat pumps replace gas boilers across the country.

To support the deployment of heat pumps in the Netherlands, the government is offering an average subsidy towards 30 per cent of the cost of every heat pump, with €150m per year ringfenced for a new fund until 2030. In addition, further low cost financing deals are available through country’s National Heat Fund.

BusinessGreen has contacted the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy for comment on the new report.

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