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Heat pump roadmap demands UK policy stability

Government is urged to provide sufficient policy, standards and legislative support, alongside industry training initiatives, to ensure heat pumps can be a viable path to decarbonised heat

A ten-point plan to introduce a stable policy framework that can support a viable increase in heat pump adoption in the UK has been set out in a new roadmap document developed by the Heat Pump Association (HPA).

The ‘Delivering Net Zero: A Roadmap for the role of Heat Pumps’ document said that a combination of direct regulation, upfront financial incentives and carbon taxes partnered with a programme of ongoing certification, training measures and product standards will be vital to push the appliances.

HPA president Graham Wright said the roadmap’s conclusions outlined how industry must work with government to ensure there was a sufficient market and support base of installers and specialists to expand the appeal and use of the appliances.

Mr Wright argued that heat pumps were an immediate and available means to begin the decarbonisation of heat in line with government targets over the next three decades.

The roadmap noted that the next ten years were expected to be especially “critical” to ensure effective policy was developed that made heat pump appliances more readily available to end users.

The document added, “heat pump deployment in the UK remains relatively low. Already widely deployed and saving carbon across much of Europe, there are some lessons learned that could help the UK to increase its heat pump installations.”

Ten-point plan

Government is being called on in the roadmap to now provide much clearer signals to the market that heat pumps, supported through a more efficient and decarbonised grid, can ensure that commitments to end fossil fuel heating in new build homes from 2025 are realised.

Taking a number of lessons from other developed heat pump markets particularly in Europe with regards to legislation and policy was therefore among the key conclusions of the HPA roadmap.

Ongoing amendments to the Building Regulations are highlighted as a major mechanism to introduce such support, for example, by urging government to mandate a maximum flow temperature of 55 deg C in heating systemsinstalls for both new home and retrofit projects.

The HPA has also called for the delivery of the Future Homes Standard that is also under consultation at present by 2025.

Another recommendation backed in the report is to end what the HPA calls freezing of the Building Regulations by cracking down on loopholes, while also introducing tighter energy efficiency regulations.

Efforts to ensure all new build properties have a suitable electricity supply connection was also demanded in the roadmap, while the HPA is also demanding that hot water cylinders be put in new build homes to support heat pump installation. This would be important to help maintain comfort.

The Building Regulations should also be amended with regard to permitted volume for outdoor units, known as permitted planning.

The HPA said it also hoped to see emissions standards for delivered heat being introduced in multiple phases, with the roadmap setting out the following proposed schedule:

  • · 220gCO2e/kWh by 1st Jan 2025
  • · <170gCO2e/kWh by 1st Jan 2030
  • · <110gCO2e/kWh by 1st Jan 2035

Outside of the area of Building Regulations, a future government is asked to ensure and commit to a successor to the Renewable heat Incentive scheme that can ensure an effective upfront financial incentive for people of different backgrounds to switch to heat pumps.

The HPA has also called for a rebalancing of taxes placed on electricity and gas generation to better reflect their carbon content.

Training challenge

A major barrier to the uptake of heat pumps identified in the roadmap, alongside the need for policy support, was the widescale need to upskill heating specialists and installers to support lower carbon heating technologies that can include heat pumps. The roadmap said that this would be vital to ensure enough industry knowledge to be able to recommend and specify such systems in different homes.

The HPA noted, “Without this upskilling of the installer base and improvement in the knowledge of the low-carbon heating systems available, the deployment of low-carbon heat could be hampered.

“This is a challenge that the heat pump industry is ready to meet by ensuring that thorough training is provided to upskill the current workforce and bring through the next generation of low-carbon heating installers.”

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