Graham Wright reflects on his time as Chairman of the Heat Pump Association

Over the past two years, the HPA has grown in membership, now representing all major heat pump manufacturers in the UK, and HPA publications have given clear direction for the industry to reach net zero.Most recently was the report analysing the regulatory changes that would need occur for ‘Retrofitting homes for net zero heating’.

I am pleased to say that this report was noted as the biggest shake up proposed for the heating industry since the introduction of the Building Regulations change in 2005 that led to the requirement for condensing boilers.

However, the report that has had the widest impact to date is ‘Delivering Net Zero: A Roadmap For the Role of Heat Pumps’. When we published this report, we aimed to use it as our basis for encouraging industry and the Government to support the growth of the heat pump market. Since its publication, we have seen the introduction of the Green Homes Grant Scheme, the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive extension, the Future Homes Standard commitment and the proposed Clean Heat Grant Scheme. All of these pieces of support and legislation will be integral for the industry to meet its net zero targets.

However, a commitment is nothing without action. If deployment levels of heat pumps stay at their current rates, then there is no hope of reaching these targets. Deployment rates are expected to increase this year following the policy introductions mentioned above and a continued trend of growth, despite the disruption of the pandemic. However, these deployment rates still need to be drastically accelerated.

It is an exciting time to be in the heating industry. There is an increasing awareness amongst consumers of the validity of heat pumps in a net zero world. The recent recognition from the Prime Minister of heat pumps in the Ten Point Plan has only highlighted how important they are on our journey to decarbonise the whole of the UK economy.

The deployment target of 600,000 heat pumps per year by 2028 is a huge positive commitment and close to that which we proposed for 2028 in the Roadmap document. The Committee on Climate Change has flagged heat pumps as an essential and reliable technology on the road to net zero, validating the work of the HPA and entrenching the importance of reaching the PM’s commitment to his deployment targets.

This acceleration in growth will come through strong government legislative commitments, such as the Future Homes Standard and ambitious changes in the current Building Regulations review. Regulation on existing homes is also vital. This will require mass upskilling of the installer base – a crucial point of information for households. There is a risk that without sufficient installer skills and knowledge base, consumers might not find out about low carbon heating options and/or have them installed correctly so they operate as efficiently as possible. This issue was highlighted by the HPA in the Department for Business and Industrial Strategy’s Committee Call for Evidence on ‘Decarbonising heat in homes’, and noted as a key priority to be developed, suggesting schemes to be put in place to provide skills and competence needed for installers to retrain to install low carbon heat. The HPA has made considerable progress on developing and revamping the route to becoming a heat pump installer and this will need to carry on as we look ahead.

The capacity for growth in the low carbon heating industry is exciting. The legislation I have mentioned in this piece, and the reports that the HPA has published are the groundwork for a robust net zero heating industry in the UK. There will undoubtably be incredible progression over the next two years, carrying on the HPA’s work. Although this will be hard work and there is a huge amount more to be done to grow the heat pump to align with the Government’s targets, I know I am leaving the HPA in the capable hands of Phil Hurley, who I am sure will continue to work tirelessly to progress the industry to net zero. I look forward to seeing what the future holds.