UK fails in delivering heat pump scheme, warn Lords

The national target for green heating is “very unlikely to be met”, a Lords inquiry has found

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The government’s flagship green heating scheme is heavily underperforming, a House of Lords committee has warned.

The Lords’ Environment and Climate Change Committee has found that the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) is “seriously failing” to deliver on its objectives, with a “disappointingly low” take-up of grants.

The scheme provides upfront capital grants to support the installation of heat pumps and biomass boilers in homes and non-domestic buildings in England and Wales.

While the government has set a target of 600,000 installations per year by 2028, this is unlikely to be met if the current take-up rate continues, the committee says in a letter sent to Lord Callanan, the Minister for Energy Security and Net Zero.

The committee has called on the government to provide greater clarity to industry and consumers on feasible options for low carbon heating through a consistent policy framework, public communications and advice.

The Lords Committee has also said hydrogen is not a serious option for home heating in the short to medium term and “misleading messages”, including from the government are negatively affecting the take-up of low carbon heating technologies like heat pumps.

Currently, heating in homes produces nearly 17% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Baroness Parminter, Chair of the Environment and Climate Change Committee, said: “The transition to low carbon heat is fundamental in the path to net zero, given that 17% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions come from our homes.

“The government must quickly address the barriers we have identified to a successful take-up of the BUS in order to help grow the take-up of low carbon heating systems. It is vital they do so if we are going to meet our net zero ambitions.”

A government spokesperson told ELN: “The Boiler Upgrade Scheme has already paid out £38.3 million of vouchers to installers.

“We’ve recently launched a marketing campaign to further increase public awareness and will consider options to ensure our targets are met.”

Clem Cowton, Director for External Affairs at Octopus Energy, which was praised by the committee for its investment in heat pump design and training, said the scheme had sparked a price war between suppliers driving down the upfront cost of heat pumps.

She said: “Demand has skyrocketed, with Octopus alone seeing more than 50,000 people registering interest in a heat pump, and removing bureaucracy like unnecessary EPC and planning rules will make heat pumps even more popular. It’s clearer than ever that the future of heating is electric.”

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