Low Carbon Farming, Black Mountain and Zero Carbon Yorkshire have joined a campaign that calls on the government to revise its low carbon heat strategy to support the development of large-scale heat pumps, a sector they contend could help the UK drive a green recovery to the pandemic.
A coalition of companies has today called on the government to expand its low carbon heat strategy to include support for large-scale heat pumps, warning that a failure to do so would undermine decarbonisation efforts and amount to a "major national embarrassment".
Dubbed the 'Pump it Up' campaign, the new initiative was launched today by an alliance of companies working on large-scale heat pump projects in response to policy proposals that would remove government support for large scale heat pumps that can help slash emissions in many non-domestic and district heat settings.
The campaigning firms contend that the plans, which are under consultation until early July, will jeopardise one of the "most impactful" options for large-scale heat decarbonisation for a range of industries, including retail, academia, farming, and utilities. Under the new proposals, support for large-scale heat pumps will be limited to off-grid domestic settings and some district heat initiatives.
The omission of support for bigger green heat projects amounts to an "effective ban" on large-scale heat pump projects, the campaigners warned.
Dave Pearson, director of Star Renewable Energy, blasted the policy as a "clear error of judgement" that would be a "major national embarrassment in the run up to COP 26", referring to the UN climate conference set to be hosted by the UK in November 2021.
Speaking on behalf of the campaign, he said: "It is nonsensical to remove support for such projects. There is a small window for a rethink and we're urging government to take it".
The Pump it Up campaign, which includes Low Carbon Farming, Reenergise, and BlackMountain, is calling on the government to put investment and employment in the clean heat sector back on the political agenda, stressing that billions of pounds of investment and thousands of jobs that could invigorate the coronavirus-stricken economy are at stake.
Projects at risk include 41 low carbon greenhouses planned by Low Carbon Farming that could significantly reduce the UK's reliance on exported vegetables, as well as a raft of projects for clients that include Sainsbury's, Greencoat, Anglian Water, and Bedales School.
Pearson stressed the development of the large-scale heat pump sector would help the government deliver on its plans to establish a green recovery to the coronavirus crisis, by delivering cleaner air and significant carbon dioxide savings while generating thousands of jobs.
"The projects we have in our collective pipeline represent billions of pounds of investment, thousands of jobs and impact all corners of the national economy," Pearson said. "They also pursue much wider national policy ambitions such as levelling up society and increasing its inherent resilience. They also deliver cleaner air through NOx-free heating, as well as major carbon dioxide savings."
The group said it has requested a meeting with Business Secretary Alok Sharma and with Cabinet Office ministers to discuss their concerns.
Zero Carbon Yorkshire, ThamesWey, Star Refrigeration, Solid Energy, Oasthouse Ventures, and Erda have also backed the campaign.
Commenting on the campaign, the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy told BusinessGreen that the government remained committed to investing in heat pumps.
"Heat pumps are key to decarbonising heat and we remain committed to investing in this technology for the long term as part of meeting our target for net zero carbon emissions by 2050," a spokesperson said. "Most immediately, we have extended the commissioning deadline to benefit from our successful Renewable Heat Incentive to 2022, but are also investing £590million in green heat networks more widely."
Defending the plans in its original consultation document, the government said it had proposed introduce a 45kW capacity limit for projects that were eligible for support "in order to target taxpayer funding most effectively in helping support the installer base for off gas grid" projects.
"The majority of the heat pump installations supported under the RHI have a capacity less than or equal to 45kW, while almost half of total domestic and non-domestic biomass installations have a capacity less than or equal to 45kW," it added. "A 45kW capacity limit is also consistent with that covered by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) for a single renewable heating product. It therefore provides a framework for ensuring installation and product standards."
It also suggested that the Clean Heat Grant scheme has been designed as part of a broader package of commitments to support the decarbonisation of heat in buildings and in heat networks and as such "larger installations are likely to play a significant role in many of these schemes".
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