30 November 2020
Two-thirds of enquiries to certified installers following the launch of the Green Homes Grant related to heat pumps, according to a survey conducted by MCS, the national standards organisation for renewables.
Following the launch of the scheme – the government’s latest consumer incentive to drive the uptake of low-carbon renewable heating in homes – MCS asked its certified installers for their insight into the types of enquiries being made by homeowners.
Over three-fifths (66%) of 230 respondents said that UK homeowners were enquiring about heat pumps, with three-quarters (75%) reporting that they had been receiving up to 25 calls per day relating to the grant.
The findings follow the announcement of the government’s 10-point plan for a “Green Industrial Revolution”, supported by £4bn of funding, the creation of 250,000 new jobs and a 12-month extension to the Green Homes Grant. A key part of this will include the ambition to see the installation of 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028.
Despite the increase in enquiries for the grant, however, installers have continued to raise their concerns regarding the efficacy of the scheme and the labour available to deliver it, meaning news of the extension is likely to bring some relief.
Initially, a quarter (25%) of MCS installers said that they did not have the capacity to take on new work that had come in thanks to the Grant, with 88% saying that the voucher redemption process was too convoluted to ensure prompt payment before the original deadline of March 2021.
Ian Rippin, chief executive officer of MCS, commented: “Our latest survey shows that consumer interest in heat pumps and other forms of renewable energy technology has never been higher, thanks to the Green Homes Grant.
“Initially, many of our installers just didn’t have to time to meet this demand within the six-month timeframe, especially as many companies are still picking work up from when they were forced to down tools in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.
“The government’s decision to extend the Green Homes Grant until March 2022 should allay these industry concerns.
“Our installers champion low-carbon energy solutions, such as heat pumps, placing huge emphasis on raising consumer awareness and upholding our high standards, which protect the industry’s reputation and consumer confidence alike.
“As we’ve stressed before, the Green Homes Grant is a step in the right direction in terms of policy – but our installers and their peers were rightly concerned about the short-termism of its ambition. This longer-term commitment to home-grown energy from the government will help move us closer to net zero, but it is vitally important that we also support skills and training for the sector.
“We are poised to scale up the MCS certification scheme, as this announcement underlines the importance and need for competent installers who can deliver solutions that are right for consumers’ premises. The grant extension needs to be backed by the policy instruments that enable growth while protecting quality and consumer confidence in the available technologies.”
To date in 2020, a 26% of all installations carried out by MCS-certified installers have been for heat pumps, up from 20% in the previous two years.
Prior to the launch of the Green Homes Grant, research by IPPR showed that the government was supporting the installation of less than two per cent of the heat pumps that are needed each year.
As the UK’s only recognised standard for small-scale renewables, MCS is included under the Green Homes Grant for the installation of heat pumps, biomass and solar thermal.