The Government wants to see 600,000 heat pumps installed every year in the UK by 2028.
Revealed as part of wide-ranging measures to tackle climate change described by Prime Minister Boris Johnson as a "green industrial revolution'', the aim is to decarbonise the heating industry.
It was initially announced that new-build homes would need to be heated without gas from 2023, two years earlier than previously announced, although this part of the plan was subsequently withdrawn, with no updated target date specified.
The Green Homes Grant for homeowners has also been extended by a year until March 2022 after the initial offer was heavily over-subscribed. This bridges the gap to the Clean Heat Grant and aligns with the end of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).
Industry figures welcomed the Government's announcement but warned that investment in training and skills, as well as communicating the benefits to consumers, would be crucial if the Government's Net Zero emissions targets are to be achieved.
Laura Bishop, Chair of the Ground Source Heat Pump Association, said: “I am pleased to see ground and water heat pumps figure so prominently in the Prime Minister’s 10-point plan. Increased deployment of heat pumps in homes and businesses is vital if the UK is to deliver Net Zero. It will provide a massive stimulus to job creation across the country. Working with the Government, investment in training and skills development will be hugely necessary to achieve this massive change.”
Graham Wright, Chairman of the Heat Pump Association, said: “As we have stated in our recent report, there is no ‘silver bullet’ solution to the decarbonisation of heat. However, as the Committee on Climate Change has already stressed, heat pumps are an established technology and can provide one of the solutions for an urgent and widespread shift to low carbon heating and must be supported immediately. This plan is therefore welcome news for the heat pump industry as it does appear to agree with our recommendations.
“We also recognise industry’s need to make the required heat pump installation training widely available. This is something the HPA is also committed to and the Government’s plan makes it clear there will be new jobs created in order to help carry out this move to greener technology.”
Bean Beanland, of the Heat Pump Federation, said: “The PM’s statement is excellent news for the heat pump sector. However, a clear and stable medium to long-term policy framework from the Government will be required to ensure that private investment funds, which we know to be available, can be drawn into the industry.
"The heavy lifting must start now to ramp up the manufacture of heat pumps in the UK and their increased deployment in people’s homes up and down the country. Working in partnership with Government, there is also a job to do to communicate the benefits of heat pumps to consumers.”
Ian Rippin, CEO of MCS, said: “It’s largely positive to see that the ambition with regards to environmental policy is growing. However, as the national standards organisation for renewables, we have to question some aspects of the plan. The proposed one-year extension to the Green Homes Grant will allay many industry concerns; as we’ve said since the scheme’s launch, the current six-month timescale was incredibly restrictive.
“We have been calling for an extension to the grant, so the new March 2022 deadline, backed by a further £1bn investment, is a step in the right direction that should enable more installers and consumers to benefit.
“That said, it is vitally important that we support skills and training for the sector. The grant extension needs to be backed by the policy instruments that enable growth while protecting quality and consumer confidence in the technologies available.
“We are poised to scale up the MCS certification scheme, as this announcement underlines the importance and need for competent installers who can deliver installations that are right for consumers’ premises.
“The Government also aims to bring forward – to 2023 – the date by which new homes will need to be warmed without using gas heating. A key part of this will include the installation of 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028.
“Though hydrogen, which features heavily in the 10-point plan, carries a certain number of concerns, heat pumps are a proven, safe technology for making our homes more energy efficient. We believe that every consumer should have access to quality renewable energy solutions, delivered to high installation standards.”
Iain Bevan, Commercial Manager – Heating & Renewables at Daikin UK, said: “It’s positive to hear that the energy efficiency of our homes has been considered as part of the Government’s 10-point green plan and that the Green Homes Grant will be extended.
“There is a huge opportunity for green jobs as we scale up the installation of renewable heating systems. For the heat pump market alone, we estimate around 17,000 new installers are required to meet the expected demand within the next ten years.
“It is vital that people are able to acquire the skills and training they desperately need to develop a career in the green sector. We also need to continue to help existing tradespeople - electricians, technicians, engineers and plumbers - to diversify and upskill so that they can futureproof their businesses.
“At Daikin we are already providing top quality training that is available for free as part of the Sustainable Home Network. This will play a significant role in developing a highly-skilled workforce that will be vital in supporting the government’s plans to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions.''
Phil Hurley, Managing Director of NIBE Energy Systems, said: "The Prime Minister’s 10-point plan has offered significant optimism to those working across the low carbon heating industry. The Green Homes Grant scheme which launched in September is a much-needed intervention for homeowners and installers and the news of its one-year extension couldn’t have come any sooner.
"The scheme has already demonstrated a clear need and demand for energy efficiency measures in homes across England, whilst highlighting the challenges of widescale deployment. The extended timescale will provide industry with further confidence to deliver the Government’s target of 600,000 homes whilst creating thousands of green jobs for the future.
"I am hopeful that this signal is strong enough to encourage heating installers across the country to retrain and upskill in heat pumps in preparation for the years ahead.
It is also promising to see the Government’s commitment to rolling out 600,000 heat pumps every year by 2028 as part of plans to improve the efficiency of homes and public buildings. This is a huge step in the right direction considering that just 27,000 heat pumps installed in 2019.
"However, we will need to see these targets ramped up down the line to meet over 1 million installations per year by the mid-2030s. Those are the figures needed to deliver the 19 million heat pumps the net zero target necessitates, according to the Committee on Climate Change. [i]Furthermore, along with necessary grant provision, it is important that the Government delivers boldly on its Future Home Standards along with tightening regulations in the retrofit heating market.
"NIBE is right at the heart of the low carbon transition and is committed to delivering low carbon heating to homes and buildings across the country. After a long and difficult year for many, the announcements made today provide hope that positive change is underway.''
Tony Lathey, UK Pre Sales Manager for Heat Pumps at Panasonic, said: “We are delighted that the Government is showing commitment to the green agenda, offering homeowners very real incentives to switch to renewable energy technologies. We are fully behind the new green 10-point plans for the Prime Minister’s ‘green industrial revolution’. We have seen strong interest in our air source heat pumps for heating and hot water provision but extending the grant programme will ensure that more homeowners can access funding for their home energy improvement schemes and we anticipate this will greatly assist the market.”
Morag Watson, Director of Policy at Scottish Renewables, said: "The Prime Minister’s recognition that renewable energy is at the heart of a green industrial revolution is to be welcomed. It remains vital, however, that the infrastructure and regulation changes required to underpin the required shift are prioritised, with proposals to alter to the way the electricity network is paid for currently meaning Scottish generation faces a complex future.
"The UK needs a diverse range of power generation, both in terms of technology and geography, to provide the energy needed to realise these plans, so recognition of Scotland’s first-mover advantage in innovative technologies is also positive. More support to cement that advantage, particularly for tidal and wave energy, is also required.
"The development of green hydrogen will complement increasing electrification of the energy system by creating a more flexible, resilient and integrated system, and plans for its growth are welcome.
"Overall it is important that the UK’s energy future is powered by the renewable energy technologies which are already providing environmental and economic benefits across the country, and we look forward to working with both the UK and Scottish Governments to overcome the barriers to realising that vision."
The Government's measures also include:
- a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 (some hybrids will still be allowed)
- a £1.3bn investment in electric vehicle charging points
- investment in the offshore wind industry
- developing nuclear power as a clean energy source
- blending hydrogen into the natural gas supply to reduce emissions
Further details on the Government's 10-point plan are available here.