By Richard Lowes, Senior Associate, RAP
The urgent tone of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s sixth assessment report, published on the ninth of August this year, shows the clear and stark need for immediate and rapid greenhouse gas emission reductions. Globally, across the EU and in the UK, heat pumps are seen as a vital technology to remove emissions from heating where fossil fuels currently dominate. The UK government has a target of 600,000 heat pump installations a year by 2028, and advisors to the Climate Change Committee have suggested an even higher figure may be needed based on their balanced pathway.
With the global market for heat pumps set to rapidly expand, investment opportunities for heat pump manufacturing are clear. And for the UK, which is one of Europe’s largest heating appliance manufacturing bases, albeit based around fossil fuel boilers, the potential is particularly obvious. Heat pumps and boilers are made from similar raw materials, use many related parts and share a very similar supply chain.
But despite the UK being well positioned to benefit, the existing piecemeal policy support — and the impending policy gap beyond the closure of the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive — puts not just UK climate targets at risk, but risks the UK losing wider industrial benefits which could be realised by growing heat pump expertise rapidly and early.
The UK government could offer a major industrial boost by using the upcoming heat and buildings strategy to clearly spell out the timeline for a fossil fuel boiler ban in new homes, to provide details of the upcoming grant scheme and to outline a plan for achieving a fossil fuel phase-out date.