Fresh data on the government’s failing Boiler Upgrade Scheme confirms what industry fear about the cause of slow growth in the heat pump market, says the Energy and Utilities Alliance (EUA). Figures released by the energy regulator Ofgem on 9 August, show a consistent but low number of applications for the £5000 Boiler Upgrade Scheme subsidy, compared to what the government expected.
The energy trade body believed these figures confirmed its view that there are too few trained heat pump installers in the UK. The organisation has speculated that this would explain why there is a steady, if unspectacular demand for the subsidy vouchers each month.
The number of voucher applications received is around 1500 a month, with under 1000 a month actually being paid out.
Commenting on the data, Mike Foster, CEO of EUA said: “We have our concerns over the principle of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme and how it is not the best use of taxpayers’ money, rewarding the well-off not supporting the fuel poor. That said, it seems obvious that there is a problem in the market, not with the administration of the scheme but the lack of trained installers prepared to fit heat pumps under the BUS rules.”
“Either installers don’t want to comply with the rules, which insist on a minimum level of performance to benefit the consumer, or there are not enough installers. We think it is the latter.”
“We told the government months ago their workforce planning was out, by a factor of three, and this data seems to back up our fears. There are simply not enough trained installers to fit heat pumps.”
“What the government could do is to scrap their plans to fine boiler manufacturers for not fitting enough heat pumps and instead encourage them to pay for the training of installers. Getting rid of the Clean Heat Market Mechanism (CHMM) quota and fines would be a start. Creating the climate and encouragement for manufacturers to train more installers is a smarter way of delivering more heat pump sales and getting to net zero – which we as an industry are committed to achieving. Otherwise, the CHMM is just a way of adding a boiler tax to gas boilers, with consumers footing the bill for this stealth tax.”