Looking ahead to the Boiler Upgrade Scheme in 2022 - and the energy price cap rise; Electrify Heat sets out 3 priorites to grow the UK market ASAP
With under six months to go until the launch of the UK Government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme a new campaign group bringing together four trade associations, heat pump manufacturers, seven energy companies, green finance organisations and consumer advice groups, is advising the Prime Minister to take immediate action in three areas in order rapidly to build the market for electric heat pumps in the UK, in the context of an expected rise in the energy price cap in spring 2022.
Electrify Heat is calling for near-term action on Training, Trust and Tariffs:
- Train 25,000 heat pump installers by 2025, using retraining and green apprenticeships, we need to grow the qualified installer and engineer base from around the 2000 we have today
- Roll-out an independently run, nationwide green homes awareness and information campaign, providing tailored advice across the country on low carbon home heating
- Remove unfair legacy taxes from electricity bills to ensure that users of low carbon heat are not unfairly penalised – as they are at present
Edward Robinson, spokesperson for Electrify Heat commented:
“The UK Government’s long term vision for heat pumps is commendable but in order to get anywhere near the 600K installations targeted for 2028, we need to build the UK market fast. That’s how costs will fall. We need more certified installers, we need tailored and independent advice for homeowners and we need to stop penalising clean heat options on bills. France installed around 400K heat pumps last year – we can do it here too!”
There is a major skills shortage for high-quality installations of heat pumps across the UK. Analysis by the Heat Pump Association suggests that we will need at least 50,200 heat pump installers by 2030 – a huge uptick from the c.2,000 qualified heat pump engineers today. The clean heat skills transition must be attractive and affordable to ensure a smooth transition for those currently working on gas heating. Electrify Heat calls on the UK Government, alongside the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government to work with industry to introduce a heat pump retraining package which provides resources, regulations and finance to support training for 25,000 installers by 2025, and support the roll-out of green apprenticeships schemes for school leavers.
Nigel Donohue, CEO of The Insulation Assurance Authority said: To ensure that industry has enough qualified people, we need to make sure we support current and upcoming installers and engineers with effective training and progression. We are currently lacking the structured career pathways that will provide clear direction to existing and new entrants and encourage the next generation to invest in a career in energy efficiency and low carbon heating. The introduction of green apprenticeships and NVQs will provide a supported route to achieving this goal but only as a part of a well considered career structure.
Nathan Gambling, host of The BetaTalk Renewable Energy Podcast and Plumbing Heating Lecturer said: “We need a paradigm shift in training. There needs to be more evidenced-based, real-world practice (e.g. methods of delivery which research has found have high impact on learning). Heat pumps are incredibly efficient – but they need to be installed properly.”
Phil Hurley, Chairman of the Heat Pump Association said: “Growing the qualified heat pump installer base is vital to the future success of the market and to reaching the government’s target. Our recently launched HPA training course draws on huge experience and will be delivered through our members, more than providing the capacity needed if the demand is there, building on the skills that heating installers already have to upskill across a 5-day course into heat pumps.”
Across the UK, there are low levels of awareness regarding heat pump technologies, with only 5% of the population feeling well informed. It is crucial that the public has access to clear information to build their understanding about the role they play in reaching net zero. Building trust is also essential, and the majority of households will need independent advice and support from a respected source to provide confidence behind decision-making around low carbon heat. There is a need to ensure people have access to consistent, comprehensive and tailored impartial advice and support as they transition to low carbon heating. Electrify Heat calls on the UK Government to support a nationwide green homes awareness campaign and, also, the introduction in England of a high-quality advice and support service on heat pumps.
Philip Steadman, Emeritus Professor of Urban Studies and Built Form Studies at the UCL Energy Institute said: “We need sources of information for homeowners and tenants in clear, accessible language, about the rationale for heat pumps, how they work, how they are installed, and the huge benefits they bring.”
Chris Whitelock, CEO of UK company Pure Renewables said: “We are without doubt on the cusp of a rapidly growing market in heat pump installations. To grow the number of installations from the current 30,000 per year to 600,000 per year by 2028 will require robust training mechanisms to improve the quality of installations, transparency with consumers to build trust and a level of tariff support to make heat pumps affordable and viable. A lack of any one of these will hamper the uptake of what is the only real alternative to fossil fuelled heating.”
Stew Horne, Head of Policy at Energy Saving Trust said: There is no time to delay in addressing the climate emergency. It is essential that we make our homes more energy efficient and move away from using fossil fuels for heating. Heat pumps are an important low carbon heating technology that will help us meet the net zero target. The priority areas highlighted in this campaign are urgently needed to ensure a successful roll out of heat pumps.
An awareness campaign and independent advice and support to back it up are both vital to engage and support people in the transition to low carbon heat in their homes. The measures Electrify Heat are proposing will make installing and running a heat pump a more attractive and viable option and will provide the market with greater confidence, clarity and certainty.
Bean Beanland, of the Heat Pump Federation, said: We are seeing a significant growth in requests for heat pump presentations from community climate action groups and from rural property managers. The acceptance of the need for change is growing fast, but people want clear and honest advice, so that: “we do it well and do it once, we have reassurance that robust standards are in place to protect us and build our confidence, and that we have help with access to affordable capital.”
At the moment, polluting fossil gas is cheaper than clean electricity. This is in part due the way that energy bills are structured, with over a quarter of the cost made up of levies and legacy policy costs on the electricity side. The UK Government acknowledges this distortion, but we still need a plan for addressing this in a timely way. With energy bills set to increase next April following changes to the price cap, it’s important to ensure that people switching to low carbon electricity to heat their homes are not being unfairly penalised for doing so as a result of policy costs falling unduly on the electricity side. Electrify Heat calls on the UK Government to publish (early in the new year) a plan for promoting low carbon electric heat pumps by removing unfair and counterproductive levies from electricity bills .
By taking these three steps, the UK Government can quickly get off the starting blocks and race forward to a mass-market for heat pumps this decade, backed by industry and investors. Our recommendations can unlock productivity, market growth and consumer demand, essential for the UK Government to get on track for targets.
Edward Thompson, Director of ICAX Ltd said: “There is now huge interest from householders to install heat pumps and play their part in curbing climate change. However, the ‘environmental levy’ on electricity remains the largest barrier to installations and the Government must now find a way to remove these taxes for those who are otherwise ready to install heat pumps. A Swede is 35 times more likely to buy a heat pump than a Brit. This is not because Swedes are greener than Brits: it is because heat pumps are the cheapest form of heating in Sweden, and gas boilers are the cheapest form of heating in the UK – largely on account of the different tax regimes.”