Heat pumps are an “obvious” solution for national decarbonisation and recent comments on the technology by UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak are inaccurate, deputy policy manager for climate at NGO the European Environmental Bureau Davide Sabbadin told a climate conference in London, UK, on Wednesday.
There has been “a lot of back and forth” over policy relating to the scaling-up of heat pumps in the UK over recent years, Sabbadin told the London Climate Technology Show, referring to a U-turn by Sunak last week on the deadline set for phasing out fossil fuel boilers.
Citing comments made by Sunak in his address on net zero last Wednesday, namely those which stated that heat pumps are unaffordable for many, and that some homes in the UK “will never ever be suitable for a heat pump”, Sabbadin said “I beg to differ”. High-temperature heat pumps, a type of heat pump that can generate the same operating temperatures as a traditional gas boiler, can be installed on any home without any additional work being needed, he argued.
This sentiment was echoed during a panel discussion on the state of UK household decarbonisation policy. Nigel Banks, technical director at Octopus Energy, agreed that “you can fit a heat pump in almost any home”, adding that Sunak’s suggestion that 20% of houses could never have a heat pump installed is a “misnomer”. Indeed, a government-funded project, commissioned by the former Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, found there is no property type or architectural era unsuitable for a heat pump.
Just days before Sunak’s U-turns on net-zero policy, Octopus Energy unveiled its new own-brand heat pump, which could be free for households when bought under the government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme and offers up to £7,500 ($9,176) towards the installation of heat pump systems.
Miles Rowland, policy officer for the World Green Building Council’s Europe Regional Network, a group comprising more than 20 national green building councils, called Sunak’s U-turn “very disappointing”, adding that the UK is now veering “way off track” regarding its plan to decarbonise households. The country is “lagging behind the major European economies”, Rowland said, pointing out that France is deploying heat pumps ten times faster than the UK.
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