Growing heat pump market will support the green transition, says the Heat Pump Association

According to statistics released by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the average UK home’s carbon footprint has reduced by 4.7 tonnes of CO2 since 1990. Whilst this is no doubt a cause for celebration, domestic heating has failed to keep up with such a rapid downwards trajectory. Where emissions from heating once counted for 27% of a household’s total carbon footprint, they now count for 42%.

As the Government’s official advisors for its 2050 Net Zero targets, the CCC say that 19 million heat pumps need to be installed by 2050 to help us reach its goal. Indeed, heat pumps run on electricity in an extremely efficient process, and make the most of the widespread growth in renewable electricity generation over the past decade to provide a cleaner power source for heating. They also do not emit any NOx, SOx or particulate matter (PM) locally, all of which are key contributors to air pollution. Clearly, this low carbon alternative will be invaluable to tackling climate change.

Here at the Heat Pump Association, we are committed to the promotion of heat pumps in UK policy. Together, we now represent around 95% of UK manufacturers. This year promises to be an important one for climate action, with events such as COP26 bringing full focus onto the UK’s green objectives. I am pleased to have taken the role of Chairman, with Max Halliwell as Vice Chairman, at this auspicious moment. Indeed, not too long ago, the Government announced its Ten Point Plan, and its promise to support the deployment of 600,000 heat pumps per year by 2028, which is evidence that the coming years promise to be green.

Since our beginnings, the HPA has been providing clear direction for the industry to reach net zero. One of our most notable and influential publications is ‘Delivering Net Zero: A Roadmap For the Role of Heat Pumps’. Within it, we detail the importance of consumer awareness and government collaboration, as well as upskilling the installer base to create a cohort of highly skilled low-carbon heat installers.

Following this report, 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 these pieces of legislation will be integral for the industry to meet its net zero targets.

Aside from our publications, we have also been busy hosting, and contributing to, online events for the industry. Recently, we co-hosted an ‘Introduction to Heat Pump Technology’ alongside the Home Builders Federation, which saw our members providing information on the technology to over 300 home builders. This event was in very high demand; we look forward to hosting more of its type in the near future, and proving ourselves to be thought-leaders in low carbon technologies.

Explaining their value to homeowners and customers will ensure their demand is stimulated as time goes on. We believe that installers are the face of heat pumps. Consumers come to understand the link between reducing their carbon footprint and their heating usage through them, and therefore training to allow installers to deliver this is a priority.

The success of this, measured through the deployment of heat pumps, is becoming increasingly apparent. A recent survey of our members that we carried out as an estimate of the supply of heat pumps in 2021 revealed that manufactures have placed orders with their supply chains to deliver what would be the equivalent of 67,000 units for the whole market. This equates to nearly double the number of heat pumps on shelves and in warehouses this year, ready for installers to meet the growing consumer demand. Indeed, with around 35,000 heat pumps sold in 2019, the near doubling of the market is a significant step in the right direction.

This year is fertile ground for pushing the heat decarbonisation agenda, and one that posts unique challenges as the economic and social effects of COVID-19 continue. I look forward to meeting both the opportunities and hurdles with the HPA members, as we continue to have a tangible effect on UK policy and regulations.

[Originally published in the April 2021 issue of Heat Pumps Today]