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Heat Pumps Today June 2021 GSHPA

Posted on 8 December 2021

While I was preparing this article, I flicked back to the piece I wrote in March 2021 and reflected on how much and how little has changed since then in the heat pump world. Two things jumped out at me: firstly, we are not much further forward in terms of Government policy to support the plans and ambitions for the 600,000 heat pumps per year by 2028. We are still waiting for the Heat & Buildings Strategy, which was due to be published in May 2021 but has yet to make an appearance. There is still lots of interest in heat pumps and decarbonisation of heat, with articles and radio programmes on heat pumps being broadcast or published on an almost daily basis. The content and accuracy of those articles leave a lot to be desired in some cases (Jeremy Vine, BBC Radio 2, June 2021) but at least it is keeping heat pumps in the public eye. We just need to keep the pressure on with fact-checking, myth-busting and being the ones that get asked for comment rather than the fossil fuel lobby, who are unlikely to concede that heat pumps represent a real and practical route to Net Zero. Heat pumps are also here now, not 8 – 10 years away. I do hope that the Heat & Buildings Strategy does not hold back from making the sometimes difficult but necessary changes to policy, planning, costs, etc that will make the difference between carrying on as we are for the next few years to actually getting a roadmap for wide-scale heat pump deployment across Britain.

The second thing that sprang to mind was that despite the demise of the commercial RHI in March 2021, the heat pump industry does not show any signs of slowing. Many of my colleagues who are designing, installing and developing heat pumps and heat pump systems are busier than ever and most of us are looking to recruit. It is a buoyant industry. This may be in part to the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS) which is funding many public sector heat pump projects for schools, colleges and council-owned buildings in England and Wales. Phase 1 of the scheme resulted in £999 million being awarded to 459 energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects. Hopefully, we will see the third round of funding but there is no news on that as yet. Of course, the domestic RHI continues till March 2022 so domestic installs are still ongoing. Of interest is the Green Heat Networks Fund, GHNF, which is due to launch in April 2021 and will fund low and zero-carbon heat networks, typically using heat pumps. That is another source of funding to drive the deployment of heat pumps in the UK. So, there are definitely some good news stories in there.

From a GSHPA point of view, we continue to develop the benefits and support we can offer to our members. I am delighted to say that we are at an all-time high with our membership numbers. This has enabled us to increase our lobbying capability with a part-time lobbyist working directly for GSHPA, targeting politicians and journalists with a clear and consistent message. We have also been strengthening our ties with other trade associations that share our goal of decarbonisation and electrification of heat. These include MCS, ADE, APHC, HPF, Energy UK, ENA and many others. It is great to work alongside others in other parts of the industry, working together for this common goal. Together we can have a much stronger voice.

Our training and education working group continues to produce great results with the Low Carbon Apprenticeship being rolled out in September 2022 and our Key Stage 1 – 4 climate change/heat pump teaching packs ready to go out to schools. A lot of hard work is also going into our newest drilling standard, being developed in conjunction with the British Drilling Association (BDA) and many of our drilling and ground designer members have provided input to that.

All in all, a busy and interesting time at the GSHPA. I hope to be able to fill you in more progress in my next Heat Pumps Today article.