Rising heat pump demand could see the UK Government’s flagship Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) run out of vouchers as early as 2024 – months before it’s original end date in March 2025.
New research carried out by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) confirmed that heat pump installations have grown by roughly 10% month-on-month.
This growth was seen in 2022 which was a record year for MCS-credited heat pump installations and has continued into 2023 with a 10% increase in MCS-credited heat pumps from February to March this year.
If these promising rates continue, the ECIU has predicted there could be as many as 150,000 heat pumps installed over the first three years of the BUS.
This means that the 90,000 available vouchers available through the BUS could “be over-subscribed by 50%” said the ECIU.
Moreover, if the level of funding for the scheme is kept the same following the government’s recent pledge to extend the BUS until March 2028, the ECIU has warned that vouchers could run out as early as mid-2025 – almost three years ahead of schedule.
“The gas industry has said that the North Sea will continue to decline in the coming years so unless we start to rapidly shift away from gas boilers now, we’ll become even more dependent on foreign gas imports. With electric heat pumps, it’s increasingly British wind and solar energy that are providing the power,” said Jess Ralston, energy analyst at ECIU.
“It’s still relatively early days for the scheme, but if demand continues to grow as it has, government will need to choose between boosting the scheme so that it reaches its full potential, or not – which could leave us more dependent on gas imports.”
If the current pace of installation can be maintained, the ECIU has said that the UK’s 600,000 yearly heat pump installation target could be met as early as mid-2025.
At this rate, the total number of heat pump installations could surpass 1 million by 2026 which the ECIU has called “a significant step towards moving away from gas heating and lowering the UK’s dependence on foreign gas imports.”
Improving awareness of heat pump technology and what funding is available, as well as training and upskilling workers will be a significant help in maintaining the current pace of installations.
Earlier this year, the government announced a new £5 million Heat Training Grant to help 10,000 trainees become “low-carbon heating experts” over the next two years.