Britain bottom of European table for heat pumps - but which country is best?
The UK is languishing at the bottom of a league table of 21 European countries for installing heat pumps which help fight climate change, new research shows. The UK Government has set a target of installing 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028, meaning they must achieve a ten-fold increase in deployment within five years to catch up with where France is at now. Figures from the European Heat Pump Association show that the UK installed 1.9 heat pumps per 1,000 households in 2022. In France, this figure was 20.01, and in Finland, 69.3. A new report said the French government seized opportunities when there was disruption in global energy markets to refocus attention away from gas and oil onto electrifying heat. The report from the MCS Charitable Foundation, said that in 2019, Emmanuel Macron's government introduced financial incentives that saw a near-doubling of air-to-water heat pump installations within a year, building on previous incentive schemes. The government action in France has resulted in creating more than 30,000 full time jobs in the heat pump industry in 2019, and increased from 100,000 sales in 2010 to over 600,000 sales by 2022. By contrast, in the UK in 2019, there were only 2,000 jobs supported by the heat pump industry, and only a tenth of the number of heat pump installations seen in France. The UK needs an 'exponential' increase in the heat pump market to catch up with France, but it could create as many as 50,000 new jobs as well as cutting energy bills and carbon, the MCS Charitable Foundation said. The charity is calling for the Government to immediately commit to making heat pumps mandatory for all new homes, scaling up and extending grants for homeowners to install heat pumps and introducing new loan schemes, and a massive consumer awareness campaign to help people access funding. David Cowdrey, director of external affairs at the MCS Charitable Foundation, said: 'Heat pumps are an extremely efficient technology for cutting carbon and bills, but the UK has so far not capitalised on their potential. With other countries such as France surging ahead, the race is on for the UK to step up. 'The Government's Boiler Upgrade Scheme and zero-rated VAT on heat pumps have helped set the UK towards rising installations. 'But we need a much more comprehensive set of policy measures to meet the Government's targets, including mandating solar and heat pumps for all new build homes, to help create the tens of thousands of jobs we know a thriving heat pump market can support.' Charlotte Lee, chief executive of the Heat Pump Association said: 'The French heat pump market is ten times the size of the UK's. This report compellingly demonstrates this is due to clear and decisive policy by the French government in exactly the same areas the UK heat pump industry has advocated for years. Strict new-build standards, grants that make consumers' choice for heat pumps compelling, low electricity prices, the building of the installer base, and the phase-out of fossil fuel boilers have been major contributors to France's success. 'There is still time to meet the UK Government's target of 600,000 heat pumps installed annually by 2028, but to do so similar swift and decisive action to France is needed - implementation of the Future Homes and Buildings Standards in 2025, setting of clear dates to end the sale of new fossil fuel boilers, reducing electricity prices and improving installer training and standards across the entire heating industry.'.