Bumpy BUS ride threatens heat pump ambitions.

Installed heat pump part of BUS boiler upgrade scheme

It’s been a bumpy ride of late for the heat pump roll-out following an inquiry by the Lords Environment and Climate Change Committee into the government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme.

Launched in May 2022 to replace the Renewable Heat Incentive, the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) has attracted plenty of criticism and now the Lords committee says it is failing to deliver on its heat pump ambitions.

It adds that if the current take-up rate of grants continues, just half the allocated budget will be used, leaving the government’s 2028 target of 600,000 annual installations increasingly unlikely.

The figures

Figures from Ofgem to the end of January 2023 show 9,889 BUS vouchers worth £49,730,000 were issued, with 7,641 redeemed, meaning 7,641 installations under the scheme. The target at launch was to fund 30,000 installations per year over a three-year period. £150m has been allocated for each year of the scheme and the committee wants the unused amount to be rolled over, with a review to consider extending the scheme.

The highlights

The inquiry also highlights plenty of other issues, including inadequate promotion of the boiler upgrade scheme, resulting in lack of public awareness; the shortage of heat pump installers; and the fact that upfront costs (even allowing for the grant) remain too high for many households. It says hydrogen is not currently a realistic domestic alternative, and warns that electricity market reform is needed to make heat pump running costs affordable.

As well as asking the government to deliver “feasible options for low-carbon home heating” the committee wants changes to the Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) process to reward people making the switch.

The move to low-carbon heating in UK homes was never going to be easy but some of the obstacles identified seem simple to address.

It will be interesting to see how the government responds as it has previously maintained that the Boiler Upgrade Scheme was ‘on target’.

The Ofgem figures and the Lords committee findings would seem to suggest otherwise.

FURTHER READING: An overview of BUS

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