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LG Electric: Social housing, new builds key to UK heat pump expansion aims

Company eyes growth for latest air to water heat pump range with a metering and monitoring service package intended to play up the efficiency potential of renewable power on the UK market

LG Electric has said social housing and private new build residential properties are proving to be increasingly important drivers to lift UK uptake of heat pumps from the limited level of adoption seen so far in the country.

Hugo Lambourn, GM for the company’s air conditioning and energy solutions in the UK, Ireland and the Nordics, made the comments during the launch of its LG Therma V Air Heat Pump range, which includes a monobloc model designed to run on R32 refrigerant.

Mr Lambourn, speaking at a launch event at Wembley Stadium to discuss the company’s heat pump strategy, said that private housing developments were beginning to provide an avenue for the technology to be more effectively implemented. This was also expected to overcome some existing challenges in adapting certain properties for use with heat pumps.

He said, “Refurbishment becomes a little more complicated as it turns into a different kind of ventilation with radiator changes and all these sort of things.”

“It’s about volumes and the volumes, without a doubt, are going to be social housing and council properties, those sort of things are going to be where the drive comes from.”

Metering and monitoring

Mr Lambourn said that a decision to package its heat pumps with a Metering and Monitoring Service Package (MMSP) was specifically tailored to capitalise on existing and emerging lower carbon funding incentives.

He added, “The government have pushed this metering package, the MMSP, they are the ones who have pushed it through and they are the ones who have given this incentive to use it.”

“By them then seeing and understanding that heat pumps actually work, because they do and do give great Coefficient of performance, by doing that, I think you will see a much clearer pitch from the government and a much more forceful way of pushing this technology on the market, possibly through better funding and that is what is needed to make this work.”

Funding programmes such as the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), which aims to incentivise lower carbon approaches to heating in specific parts of the country or for certain types of property, were cited by LG Electric as an example of interest in supporting a switch to renewables.

Mr Lambourn said, “We believe with those funding [programes], we are going to start getting some volume and as the volume starts to roll then the interest becomes much greater and costs come down. “

Statistics cited by the company found that around 16,000 air to water heat pumps were installed in the UK last year. Over the same period, 1,500 ground source heat pumps were installed.

Despite the relatively small market at present for the products, LG Electric said there was a lot of potential to grow these sales in the UK market, which continues to favour gas boilers for heating.

Mr Lambourn said there was a growing impetus around including heat pump use in new building design and planning as a means to curb emissions via renewable energy use.

He said, “Certainly there is much more interest in renewables, extending their use and allowing people to buy into it. So I think its about momentum and not just for us, but other manufacturers are starting to try and get this going.”

“You are starting to see Vaillant and Worcester Bosch starting to push heat pumps a lot more now and they can see they have got to offer a viable renewable alternative. So that is really good for us.”

Another vital focus for the company to push its air to water heat pump products will require reaching out to installers and the end user themselves on the potential for air to water heat pump adoption.

Mr Lambourn added, “We need to educate these guys so they know there is another option. They are not just always recommending to fit a gas boiler, but actually, saying there is another option in the heat pump. If you do this properly, and we’re MCS proved and can help you, you can actually gain all these benefits back which pays for it.”

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