Agent-based modelling

A simulation of the interventions required to hit the UK’s Government’s 2028 heat pump target.


To combat domestic heating emissions, which account for 16% of total greenhouse gas emissions and approximately 35% of total energy consumption in the UK, the Government stated its ambition to install 600,000 heat pumps per year by 2028 in its Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. Current figures show fewer than 30,000 heat pumps are being installed annually.

Undertaken in 2022, this research forecasted whether within existing policy parameters, the UK would reach its heat pump target. Significantly, it also highlighted the most sensitive intervention points to accelerate uptake in the next decade.

With the decision to change home heating systems lying largely with individual households, CNZ took a research approach that accounts for variation in real-world behaviours and decision-making by individuals, known as agent-based modelling.

Key findings

The Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) would not generate enough uptake alone to reach the Government’s 600,000 per year heat pump installation target by 2028.

Of the scenarios modelled, only interventions including a boiler ban announced by 2025 generate enough uptake of heat pumps to reach the Government 2028 target.

Awareness of heat pumps is pivotal to achieving uptake at scale. Consumer awareness campaigns to increase knowledge will help us move away from fossil fuel technologies during renovations or heating system breakdowns.

Heat pump installer capacity in the UK has the potential to be a significant constraining factor in reaching the Government’s heat pump target. While the combination of the BUS, together with a ban and an awareness campaign might raise demand to levels beyond the target, installer capacity would create a bottleneck. We found that 30,000-35,000 installers are required by 2028 - which was used by BEIS in evidencing the need for government schemes including the Home Decarbonisation Skills Training Competition.

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