The UK government has announced a consultation on proposed amendments to the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS).
Introduced in 2022, the BUS aims to support the roll out of low-carbon heat in the UK, by offering an upfront capital grant of £5,000 for those looking to install an air source heat pump (ASHP) or biomass boiler and £6,000 for a ground source heat pump (GSHP).
Initially the scheme received £450 million in funding until 2025 before it was extended to 2028 as part of the government’s Powering up Britain announcement.
The consultation follows a number on concerns voiced within the industry that the scheme was underperforming. Alongside the consultation the government has also announced new proposals to make heat pump installations cheaper and easier, in a bid to upgrade the BUS.
To bolster the BUS and help the UK reach its target of 600,000 annual heat pump installations by 2028 the government has set out the following proposals:
- The possibility of differentiating grant levels in different circumstances
- Whether to retain or amend existing EPC requirements
- Consider whether biomass boilers with a cooking function ought to be eligible for funding under the scheme
The consultation has been welcomed by industry members. Jess Ralston, energy analyst from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) noted that the move hints that the government has recognised the UK is lagging behind its European neighbours who have seen rapid increases in heat pump installations.
“This move would mean the UK’s levels of support for installing heat pumps becomes more closely aligned to other nations, including lots of EU countries, the US and Australia. The rest of the world has been slowly ramping up heat pump deployment for some time, so much so that there are now 20 million installed in Europe and the US sold more heat pumps than gas boilers last year. It seems the Government has recognised we’re falling behind, which is threatening our energy security, and wants to catch up with countries like Poland and Estonia, which have far higher numbers of heat pumps per person. This could also boost the UK’s heating industry, which faces losing £65 million worth of exports each year if we go slow on heat pumps,” sad Ralston.
“Electric heat pumps reduce our reliance on gas, which has largely driven the cost of living and energy bill crisis over the past year or so, are three times more efficient than gas boilers and don’t produce air pollution. Lowering the barrier of upfront cost means more households could install a heat pump and better shield themselves from the volatile prices of gas for good. Driving installations up will drive prices down and we’re already seeing companies like Octopus and British Gas offering heat pumps for less than £3,000.”
Henk van den Berg, strategic business manager for heating & renewables at Daikin UK added: “We welcome the Government’s consultation to improve the Boiler Upgrade Scheme. The scheme is making an important contribution to increasing the take-up of low carbon heating. We believe that there is much of merit in the consultation and will respond to it in due course.
“We would, however, urge the new Energy Secretary, to include hybrid heat pumps in the scheme. Hybrids are the quickest and most effective way to decarbonise existing properties. They also require lower levels of support to make them attractive, making the Governments funding go even further.”
The consultation will close at 11:59pm on 12 October 2023.