Time to tip the balance on the ‘good news’ stories

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Published: 06 April 2021


Laura Bishop, Chair of the GSHPA (Ground Source Heat Pump Association) shares the national conversation around heat pump technology, which took a step up at the end of 2020.

 

 It had been a busy year for many of us. But, Boris Johnson’s mention of 600,000 heat pumps per year by 2028 in his Green Revolution 10-point plan in November suddenly turned discussion from ‘What is a heat pump?’ to ‘How can I get a heat pump?’.

 

This is welcome news for anyone working within the heat pump industry. For anyone who does not have a tariff guarantee or an extension the non-domestic RHI scheme ends on the 31st March. The domestic RHI scheme ends in March 2022.

 

The demise of the two incentive schemes has raised concerns about future uptake of heat pumps but the knowledge that government is firmly backing the electrification of heat is something we can get behind and be encouraged by.

 

Some of the other key documents and consultations that have been released over the last few months include;

The CCC’s 6th carbon budget - whose balanced net zero pathway recommends that by 2030, 75% of domestic low carbon heat systems should be heat pumps

The Energy White PaperPowering our Net Zero Future - which recommends the growing of the heat pump installation market from 30,000 heat pumps per year to 600,000 heat pumps per year by 2028. This is as per the figure within the 10-point plan, as well as mentions of storage, smart metering and time of use tariffs, which help to reduce the running costs of heat pumps.

 

What does this mean

The latter is going to be an important aspect of helping heat pump systems to start standing on their own two feet without the need for incentives and grants. Something we are working towards, certainly on the larger heat pump systems.

 

What’s next

Recent and impending consultations that the Ground Source Heat Pump Association will be or have responded to are the Green Heat Networks Fund consultation and the Future Buildings Standard consultation - both out now for responses by April. We await the publication of the Heat & Buildings Strategy, due out early 2021, which we trust will provide the roadmap to meet the aspirations outlined above.

 

Training is critical

We are aware of challenges around the education and upskilling of heat pump designers and installers and we are proud to be rolling out our education work package, which is designed for key stages 1 – 4 (ages 4 – 16) This provides teachers with the material they need to educate and inform their pupils on climate change, decarbonisation and heat pump technology. Training the next generation of engineers and leaders in our field is critical if we are to succeed in our ambition to make heat pumps the go-to technology for heating, cooling and hot water.

 

The GSHPA is also collaborating with others in industry to develop the new apprenticeship scheme, which will include ground source heat pumps and which we hope will be ready for delivery from September 2021.

 

Myth busting is something I take every opportunity to address, and I know there are many others who are doing likewise. There are still many misconceptions around the use of heat pumps such as the need for underfloor heating (not true).

 

The need for a new build to make them work efficiently (also not true) and the requirement to replace all radiators and pipework in a building before a heat pump will work (again, not true).

 

Keeping fuel bills low

Good design, installation and maintenance are all required to ensure that heat pumps work efficiently as well as provide good thermal comfort and keep fuel bills as low as possible. This is perfectly achievable within the majority of buildings across the UK. From large hospital campuses to small Victorian terraced houses and everything in between.

 

Unfortunately, there are too many bad news stories around where consumers have not had a good experience with their heat pump - these stories tend to spread. There are also many good news stories where consumers are very happy with their heat pump. We need to tip the balance to have more of those and less of the bad experiences.

 

We are working hard to provide support, training and standards to ensure that installers have everything they need to create well-performing systems and to raise awareness with consumers on what to expect from a heat pump installation.

 

In summary

On the back of all of that, it promises to be a busy year. The GSHPA and those in the wider heat pump industry welcome the aspirations and ambitions from the UK government for the roll out of heat pumps to achieve our net zero goals. However, we await the firm policy and steps to make ambition a reality. There is a lot to do but the industry is keen and ready to ramp up, train up and get on with the business of heat electrification in the UK and to make 2021 the Year of the Heat Pump.