Tariffs, consumers and the government

In July, energy supplier Good Energy launched the UK’s first ever heat pump tariff, raising a question about what will drive the adoption of the technology going forwards?

A more mature technology

One of the aspects that sets heat pumps apart from the growth of other green technologies in the UK such as solar is the relative maturity of the technology according to Bean Beanland, chairman of the council for the Ground Source Heat Pump Association.

“There was much more scope for the capital cost of PV to come down than there is the capital cost of heat pumps to come down, because the market is already relatively mature, and as an industry globally is selling millions of units a year.”

Air conditioners (Image: Todd Morris/Flickr)

Air conditioners (Image: Todd Morris/Flickr)

Nearly 20 million households globally purchased a heat pump in 2019, with it becoming the most common form of heating in new builds in many countries according to the IEA.

The UK has lagged behind many in this regard, with increasing pressure growing to focus on the need to decarbonise heat. While electricity has steamed ahead, it seems heat has often been forgotten. The sector generates about 37% of total UK carbon emissions when including industrial processes currently, and as such now is the time for action if the country is to hit its net zero by 2050 target.

There has been a certain amount of debate over the best way in which to decarbonise heat in the UK, but many are favouriting heat pumps.

Good Energy’s senior policy manager, Tom Steward, said: “Consumers are beginning to recognise the value of moving away from traditional forms of fossil-fuel heating. Heat pumps have the potential to offer higher levels of comfort, lower bills, and allow a home to sever its reliance on fossil fuels. The technology is well established in other countries, but in the UK the supply chain is still building.”

Building up this supply chain in particular, could lead to a fall in costs despite the maturity of the technology.

Kensa Group’s CEO, Simon Lomax, echoed the sentiment, urging: “Ground source heat pump manufacturers must enhance product performance, embrace complementary technologies such as heat batteries and smart controls, provide exceptional training and support to their installers and develop new business models which reduce the upfront costs.”

The opportunity of tariffs

Large drops in cost cannot be relied on to attract households, but heat pump tariffs may offer another option for encouraging adoption of the green technology.

Read more: Current