IPPR calculates that government has to date supported just two per cent of the heat pumps the UK needs to deploy to meet its net zero emissions goals
The government is falling behind on a key plank of its net zero strategy, with the UK having installed less than two per cent of the heat pumps needed to decarbonise the nation's homes, according to a new report from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).
The think tank is today calling on the government to adopt a comprehensive Home Improvement Plan to catalyse progress on across the green heat sector to tackle the 14 per cent of total UK emissions that come from homes.
If the UK is to meet its 2050 net zero target, at least 12 million homes will have to be fitted with heat pumps and energy efficiency measures such as insulation over the next 30 years, according to the IPPR's report.
Titled All hands to the pump: a clean heat plan for England the report estimates that the government has so far supported the installation of less than two per cent of what is needed. Even the recently announced £3bn energy efficiency fund provides only a "first step" towards delivering the mass roll out of green heat technologies, the report warns, calculating that across England it will take closer to £10.6bn a year of both public and private investment through to 2030, and a further £7bn from 2030 to 2050, to deliver the scale of change required to meet the UK's net zero target.
Meeting this challenge will require a coordinated a national plan, the think tank argues, as as such it is urging Ministers to adopt a comprehensive Home Improvement Plan. At the heart of the nw plan should be a significant scale up of heat pumps to replace existing central heating systems, which could be accompanied by the wider adoption of district heating systems, with infrastructure installed at the neighbourhood level.
"A low-carbon heat strategy built around heat pumps would provide a tech-ready plan for decarbonising our homes. Adopting this technology now, and supporting its uptake, will allow industry to focus on the challenge ahead and enable the training of workers to begin in earnest," said Jonathan Webb, research fellow at the IPPR.
The report argues that heat pumps should be favoured over hydrogen boilers at this stage, as heat pumps are readily available, likely to be cheaper for households to run, and do not rely on imports of natural gas from overseas.
Specific additional policy measures proposed by IPPR include a Retrofit Fund for England, with £5.3bn of funding a year through to 2030 and £3.5bn through to 2050; grants to cover 50 per cent of the cost of heat pump installation, with the remaining cost subject to means-tested support; a training programme for clean heat installers; and the creation of advice service to guide households on how to use and maintain the kit once installed.
The new green heat technology would need to be combined with a large rollout of energy efficiency measures like loft and wall installation, the report added, arguing that social housing should be prioritised for the first wave of retrofits, which would help scale up supply chains to encourage private sector take-up.
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