The UK is 20% more dependent on gas imports than the rest of Europe due to the low number of heat pumps, according to the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU).
The shock wave to the energy market caused by the war in Ukraine has increased Europe’s urgency to lessen dependency on gas generated heat by turning to electric heating systems.
Overall the sale of heat pumps increased throughout Europe, according to data from the European Heat Pump Association (EHPA). Estonia and Poland for example, sold 1,583 heat pumps and 259 per 100,000 people respectively in 2021. The UK however, only sold 63 per 100,000 people in the same year.
Analysis by the ECIU found that, had the UK already installed the same number of heat pumps per person as Estonia, domestic gas prices would be 34% (107TWh) lower than last year. This would have cut gas imports by 19%.
The EHPA also found that the total number of heat pumps installed in the UK (280,000) was much lower than other countries in Europe such as France with 3.1 million or Norway with 1.3 million.
Senior analyst at ECIU, Jess Ralston commented on the importance of increasing the number of heat pumps in the UK: “They’ve been dubbed freedom pumps in the US because they reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian gas. The IMF has been clear that the UK is Europe’s most gas-addicted country.”
In September the UK Government announced that it would give an additional £15 million funding to help projects designed to reduce the cost and installation complications of heat pumps, as part of their £60 million Heat Pump Ready Programme. Since this announcement a number of schemes have been announced this year to help decarbonise the UK’s heat.
Halifax, Octopus Energy and Lloyds Banking Group announced a new strategic partnership this month for example called The Boiler Upgrade Scheme, designed to accelerate the rate of heat pump installations. According to data from the Microgeneration Certification Scheme, the number of installers taking part in the scheme has grown from 450 to 900 since its launch.
The Energy and Utilities Alliance (EUA) also called for Ofgem to trial a heat pump village. The results from the trial, EUA claimed, could then be used to accelerate the decarbonisation of the UK’s heat generation by providing “the much-needed evidence for policymakers as they tackle the challenge of decarbonising UK homes.”
Earlier this week, EDF Energy, CB Heating and Daiken, partnered to launch a new training academy for heat pump installers in the UK. The academy is hoped to address the installation difficulties surrounding heat pumps.