NAO: heat pumps below planned installations

Heat pump installations by the end of 2023 was less than half of planned projections and uncertainty regarding hydrogen in home heating is hampering investment, a new National Audit Office (NAO) report has found.

According to the report, the government wants 600,000 heat pumps installed each year by 2028, which is an eleven-fold increase on 2022 levels. By 2035, it wants 1.6 million heat pumps installed annually.

The reason for the high numbers is the government sees heat pumps as the main technology to decarbonise the UK’s 28 million homes over the next decade, which is 18% of the UK’s total emissions.

The NAO has said the government’s plans are “optimistic” and its flagship Boiler Upgrade Scheme has also underperformed, installing just 18,900 heat pumps between May 2022 and December 2023. It was expecting around 50,000 installations by now.

The cost of installation and use is a barrier to entry, it states, and the government’s delay to reducing running costs, by rebalancing gas and electricity prices, has impacted results.

The NAO also found that no overarching long-term plan to address the low levels of awareness among households about the steps required to decarbonise home heating has been undertaken by government.

In addition, the role of hydrogen is being considered, but it so far has a “limited role”, according to the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero.

Gareth Davies, head of the NAO, said:  “Government needs to engage every household to achieve its objective to decarbonise home heating as part of the transition to net zero. DESNZ’s progress in making households aware and encouraging them to switch to low-carbon alternatives has been slower than expected.” 

“DESNZ must draw on its experience to date to ensure its mix of incentives, engagement and regulations addresses the barriers to progress in its current programme of work.”

Image from Shutterstock

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