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Hitting the Target: interventions required to meet UK Government heat pump targets

Independent Research

Agent-based modelling

Homes account for 16% of total greenhouse gas emissions and approximately 35% of total energy consumption in the UK. 75% of total energy demand in UK housing stock comes from heating with natural gas, the most common heating fuel in domestic buildings. There are currently approximately 22 million households in the UK with gas boilers, with 1.7 million units sold in 2019 alone.

To combat domestic heating emissions, the UK government stated in its Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, the ambition to install 600,000 heat pumps per year by 2028. This sits in contrast to the UK Climate Change Committee’s assessment that in order to reach net zero by 2050, the installation target the UK should instead be reaching is 900,000 heat pumps per year by 2028, including new builds.

Currently, fewer than 30,000 heat pumps are being installed annually. The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee stated in its report earlier this year that ‘it is vital that the government meets its target or there will be a great risk that the UK will fall off course in delivering net zero by 2050’.

This piece of research seeks to forecast whether within existing policy parameters, the UK will reach the government target for heat pump installations and where the most sensitive intervention points lie to accelerate uptake in the next decade.

The key interventions modelled in this report alongside variables including levels of consumer awareness, feasibility of heat pumps for different building types and technology cost changes are:

  • The Boiler Upgrade Scheme already announced by the government – a £5,000/ £6,000 (Air source heat pump/ Ground source heat pump) grant to support the installation of heat pumps capped at £450 million, from April 2022-2025.4
  • The redistribution of policy costs across gas and electricity which is currently a subject of exploration by the government.
  • A boiler ban commencing on 1st January 2035. After this date, households cannot purchase new fossil fuel boilers, but may repair and continue to use their existing one.