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UK lagging behind Europe on heat pump adoption

Some 1.36 million heat pumps were sold in France and Italy combined last year, far outstripping countries like the UK, research from the European Heat Pump Association shows.

Indeed, in the UK just 55,168 heat pumps were sold in 2022.

On a per household basis Scandinavia leads on heat pump adoption.

Per 1,000 households Finland (69.36), Norway (59.87) and Sweden (39.34%) are ahead of the curve, far outstripping the UK (1.90).

UK heat pump adoption is projected to increase by 10% in 2023, though it’s clearly from a fairly low base.

Charlotte Lee, chief executive of the UK’s Heat Pump Association, said: “Whilst heat pumps sales have grown year on year in the UK, total sales when compared with our European counterparts are low.

“We believe the UK government’s projected deployment target of 600,000 heat pumps installations per year by 2028 remains achievable provided it moves swiftly and decisively to introduce the Future Homes Standard, provide early clarity of a date for the full phase out of 100% fossil fuel boilers, and takes steps to reduce the price of electricity.

“Our members are clear that the price of electricity relative to gas is a critical factor, and we support the EHPA’s view that electricity prices should be no more than twice those of gas.”

Some 52.3 megatons of CO2 have been saved thanks to the adoption of heat pumps across Europe, roughly the entire annual emissions of Greece.

Around 19.75 million systems have been installed, while it’s expected that 45 million will be installed by 2030.

The European heat pump industry is now employing over 160,000 people, with around 37% in manufacturing.

There is a correlation between decreases to the ratio of gas to electricity prices and increases to heat pump sales.

For example, in 2022, the ratio of electricity to gas prices in the Netherlands decreased significantly compared to 2021, resulting in the heat pump market almost doubling.

Considering the importance of energy prices, the Heat Pump Association said it is concerning that the UK has one of the highest ratios of electricity to gas prices out of 27 countries analysed in the report. The ratio from the July 2023 price cap, 4.01, is far higher than the ratio of 2 that the EHPA see as necessary to incentivise consumer demand.

Within the Powering Up Britain announcements, the government confirmed that it would set out plans during 2023-2024 to rebalance gas and electricity costs with the aim of making electricity bills cheaper to support the speeding up of electrification for households and businesses.

The association called on them to act swiftly to provide industry with the clarity and confidence needed to invest and grow the market.

The Heat Pump Association is a member of the European Heat Pump Association.