Government urged to target one million heat pumps a year by 2035
The UK must invest in ground source heat pump infrastructure in the 2020s, just as previous generations ploughed money into the gas and water grid, in order to help kickstart the fledgling sector.
Bean Beanland, president of the recently rebranded Ground Source Heat Pump Association, told Utility Week that the association will be pressing the government to provide capital grants for the installation of heat pumps as part of a new post -2021 support framework for low-carbon heating.
The replacement for the Renewable Heat Incentive, the existing framework that runs out next year, should set a target of 1 million heat pump installations a year by 2035, according to the association.
Beanland estimated that capital grants for works such as boreholes and pipes to connect the ground heat to the pumps above, could cut the cost of installing the devices by between a half and a third.
Investment in heat pump infrastructure could provide the same kind of long term benefits to society that expenditure on the energy and water grid had delivered 50 years ago, he said: “That is public spending for public good because those boreholes will have a lifespan of 100 years: that is genuine infrastructure.”
Cutting the upfront costs of putting in heat pumps, which continue to be more expensive than conventional natural gas boilers, could stimulate the market for the technology and its installation supply chain, Beanland said: “We want long term signals so that we can start weaning people off fossil fuels and persuade plumbers that they can deliver heat pumps alongside their existing business.
“It is critical that installers start to invest the time to repurpose and retrain from fossil fuel technologies to heat pumps.”
Beanland said the higher levies imposed on electricity supply vis-a-vis gas also needs to be addressed by policymakers.
He said that these higher levies now seem “illogical”, given the extent to which the electricity grid has been decarbonised in recent years.
Given how much gas is effectively subsidised, Beanland said some form of policy support is required to allow heat pumps to compete for investment.
This article first appeared on edie's sister title, Utility Week