Following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia in February 2022, which led to a worsening of the international gas crisis that started in autumn 2021 – of which the UK and Europe now feel the full blown effect – Electrify Heat published a report highlighting learnings on how the UK can get ahead in the global race towards clean heat, looking at the responses and initiatives from seven countries to get off gas by deploying heat pumps.
Since then, the International Energy Agency published an updated report on heat pumps, highlighting a growing market – with record high growth in heat pumps sales registered these past two years, particularly in Europe, China and the United States. In the European Union, of which the largest markets are France, Italy and Germany, sales grew by around 35% year-on-year, exceeding 2.2 million units. Other than climate objectives, energy security was listed as one of the main drivers for heat pumps adoption, with the increasing policy attention gained in 2022 as a result of the war.
We published a report in partnership with the TUC earlier this year setting out recommendations for supporting a high skill, high wage economy in the UK with heat pumps – to ensure a smooth and efficient transition to clean heat, while ramping up green jobs around the country.
Poland’s heat pump market has been an impressive success story this year – despite the country’s heavy reliance on coal, the energy crisis has led to a welcome boost for the energy transition. Since the start of the year, Polish market for heat pumps has grown by 100%. In an article from EURACTIV, Pawel Lachman, secretary general of the Polish heat pump association, estimated “there will be around 170,000 heat pump sales in Poland in 2022”.
In July, heat pump manufacturer Daikin also announced a €300 million investment in a new Polish heat pump factory. It will be Daikin’s first production base in the country, in addition to existing factories across Europe – in Belgium, Czech Republic, and Germany. The company aims to become the first heat pump firm present in every major EU-state. They will be employing 1,000 people in their Polish factory by 2025, in order to create a production system with a stable supply to answer rising demand and so that all heating products sold in Europe are also manufactured in Europe.
In the UK context, and as highlighted in Nesta’s latest report, replacing a gas boiler with a heat pump reduces a home’s gas use by over 70%, assuming the makeup of the electricity grid remains the same. As such, if all 23 million UK homes with gas boilers were to switch to a heat pump without any change in the share of gas in the electricity grid, the savings in wholesale gas costs would be equivalent to around 1.2% of GDP. With the UK currently importing 60% of its gas, that saving would significantly benefit the country’s economy and government’s finance.
In the US, the Biden-Harris Administration ramped up heat pump support by making use of the Defence Production Act and the new Inflation Reduction Act to get off gas, improve energy security, and help households reduce their bills and warm their homes effectively in doing so.
Announcements earlier this month included $9 billion funding for states and Tribes. Among the measures funded, money will be allocated to install 500,000 heat pumps and deliver whole-house retrofits – including insulation and electrical wiring. This program is targeted at low to moderate income families specifically, in order to help them face the energy crisis and upcoming winter.
This will help create further momentum to ramp up the US heat pump market and meet their target of at least 12 million heat pumps installed by 2030. In addition, to face rising demand and avoid the supply chains issues other countries have had to face, the government adopted the Defence Production Act to increase US manufacturing.
In New York, to meet demand and ramp up the heat pump workforce, the city has committed $54 million to a programme that is working to ensure racial and climate justice via green job opportunities. New York has a target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Two-thirds of those emissions currently come from buildings, making the electrification of heat a priority. Brooklyn-based building electrification start-up BlocPower will train up to 3,000 New Yorkers and connect them to job opportunities in the green economy, including solar and heat pump installation, and EV charger maintenance – ensuring a fair and efficient clean heat transition, centred on and to benefit to local communities.
In the UK, delivery on the Net Zero agenda and ramping up heat pump deployment across the country are the key to both reducing household bills and ensuring long-term energy security.
Adopting the following measures is the first step to ensuring and accelerating the transition to clean heat and getting off gas:
- Confirm targets and regulations to provide long-tern certainty for the clean heat market
- Provide long-term support for the Boiler Upgrade Scheme to support households to transition to heat pumps, working with industry to raise awareness of the scheme
- Scale attractive green finance to fund renovation, for example through the UK Infrastructure Bank
- Support skills, supply chains and manufacturing to develop a stable market
- Reduce running costs of low-carbon electric heating