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Government’s heat pump target likely to be missed according to modelling

The government launched its £450m Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) this week, giving the public £5000 grants to convert to low-carbon heating, but targets are still likely to be missed according to research.

In the Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution the government outlined plans to install 600,000 heat pumps per year by 2028, but experts from the Centre for Net Zero (CNZ) say BUS will not be enough to achieve this target.

Modelling showed that while installations would rise during the three years the scheme is live, this would quickly fall back down to pre-grant levels of 30,000 heat pumps annually once it ends.

Researchers from CNZ, founded by octopus Energy, discovered that the best way to reach the 2028 target was to introduce a boiler ban by 2025 which would see households converting to low carbon heating earlier.

white radiator heater beside brown wooden window

Lucy Yu, CEO of CNZ, said: ‘Our findings are striking, and show clear and actionable paths for Government. It should be possible to hit and even exceed the government’s 2028 target for heat pump installations, but only if the right actions are taken, and quickly enough.

‘The government should not wait to announce such a ban; to delay doing so by five years could reduce the number of heat pumps installed by 2028 by 63% without any change to the date the ban actually comes into force.’

According to the research, the government should also be prioritising training up heat pump installers to keep up with demand, with an estimated 30,000 installers required by 2028.

Findings show that increasing customer knowledge and awareness of heat pumps contributed greatly to their uptake.

Researchers suggest myth-busting campaigns should be held to influence them to turn to low carbon heating.

Additionally, redistributing policy cost across gas and electricity did not have a significant impact on uptake, but being able to afford the cost of heat pumps upfront was the biggest influence in deciding to move to low-carbon heating systems.

The 2028 target has already been criticised by the Climate Change Committee which said a new target should be set to deliver 900,000 heat pumps a year by 2028.

With annual boiler sales currently at around 1.8 million a year, it’s suggested this would the government to keep up with conversions to low-carbon heating, however, this reccommendation was not accepted.

Photo by Julian Hochgesang

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