How do we pump up the volume on heat pumps?
(Daikin outdoor heat pump unit, source: Octopus Energy)

How do we pump up the volume on heat pumps?

Heat pumps could be an important low-carbon, cost efficient solution for keeping our homes at the appropriate temperature. Getting them into homes takes more than just the kit.

Summary: The UK has the lowest heat pump adoption per household across Europe. Whilst government climate policy highlights heat pumps as important, resources 'on the ground' do not match that ambition. A lack of appropriately qualified installers is a key concern as well as appropriate economic incentives for consumers on a lifetime cost basis, particularly with installation. Planning is a bottle neck too which should be reassessed holistically.

Why this is important: This highlights is the importance for any transition of appropriate implementation and having the right resources in place on the ground to make adoption economically viable and with as little disruption as possible for the end consumer especially.

The big theme: The built environment, encompassing residential and commercial buildings, communal areas such as parks, and supporting infrastructure such as energy networks, mobility, and water supply, is an important sustainability theme. It is an integral part of societal existence and a major resource consumption problem (40% of global raw materials) and decarbonisation problem (40% of energy-related GHG emissions) that needs investor, government, business and consumer attention. Around 3/4 of those energy-related GHG emissions are from the consumption of resources when the building or facility is in use - 'operational carbon'. These are activities enabling the building or structure to fulfil its function. The two main areas are 'powering activities' (enabling us to do stuff in those facilities like running a washing machine or running a computer) and 'thermal regulation' (keeping the environment at an appropriate temperature). Enabling low-carbon, cost efficient solutions can have significant impacts on our health, well-being and equity and inclusion, notably as climate change and climate-induced migration is steadily and significantly increasing the number of people exposed to extreme weather, including heat stress.

The details

Summary of a story from The BBC

A lack of qualified heat pump installers is preventing the UK from reaching its target of 600,000 annual installations by 2028, which could reduce carbon emissions by 500 million mt by 2030, according to the International Energy Agency. The UK Heat Pump Association have said at least 50,000 more installers are needed, whilst The Heating and Hot Water Industry Council believes that as many as 150,000 more installers are required. The government has launched a £500 ($640) grant to fund training in heat-pump installation. Companies, such as VitoEnergy and organisations such as Heat Geek, are now offering retraining to train more people to install heat pumps.

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