UK Parliament trusts RAP on heat pumps

By Deborah Bynum, Communications Associate, Regulatory Assistance Project

It only takes a moment on Jan Rosenow’s website for the reader to recognise his passion for a clean, fair and efficient energy system. From an ambitious eight-year-old who founded an environmental group in his town, Jan grew up to create a remarkable body of work on energy policy for Oxford University, the University of Sussex, the Free University of Berlin — and for RAP. In 2020, the countless hours he devoted to his craft would be put to the test in five minutes that could mean a giant step towards clean energy in the UK.

Heating accounts for 23 percent of the UK’s carbon emissions, yet there had never been a full parliamentary inquiry into decarbonising home heating. In March of 2020, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Parliamentary Committee launched the ‘My BEIS inquiry‘ — an open call for issues the committee should investigate.    

After being shortlisted from among more than 200 submissions, the day arrived. Jan had only five minutes to persuade the panel that an inquiry into heat pumps deserved the government’s time and funds. If that weren’t enough, it was July 2020, so everyone was navigating the challenges of a global pandemic.

With the benefit of input from his RAP colleagues, Jan’s pitch on heat decarbonisation captured the attention of the committee.

In October 2020, the committee launched an inquiry into decarbonising domestic heating, and named Jan as special advisor. In that role, Jan worked closely with the committee chair and staff to identify witnesses and prepare questions. He ensured that committee members received unbiased and useful testimony. Jan also delivered technical briefings for the committee, providing context and an opportunity for questions and discussion.

The committee’s report is not simply a recitation of industry talking points. It reflects the trust and confidence of the committee members in Jan’s advice. With recommendations including installing 600,000 heat pumps per year and a commitment to phase out the installation of fossil fuel systems by 2035, the committee set out a roadmap for effectively and efficiently decarbonising home heating in the UK.

The Russian gas crisis dramatically increased pressure on the government to act. The British Energy Security Strategy reflects a widespread understanding of the role heat pumps play in moving the country away from fossil fuels. It provides additional support for heat pumps via a £30 million investment in manufacturing and removes the VAT taxes from heat pump installation and unit costs. The Strategy reaffirmed the government’s commitment to rebalancing energy costs and shifting levies away from electricity to encourage electrification.

RAP’s team is committed to making sure the UK and other countries are successful in meeting its energy goals. In the UK, RAP is now seen as a key expert organisation on heating – evident through weekly requests from government officials, advocates, industry representatives and the media to provide insight and evidence of international best practice and developments. We work closely with UK government officials through the Clean Heat Forum – an international policy network.

For more on RAP’s heat pump recommendations, check out the heat pump toolkit, developed in partnership with CLASP and Global Buildings Performance Network.

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