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Lack of demand and skills impacting Britain’s great gas boiler replacement

The UK’s desire to replace gas boilers with heat pumps is being adversely affected by two main drivers: lack of consumer demand and a shortage of workers sufficiently skilled to install the heat pumps where demand for them exists.

According to the most comprehensive survey of heat pump installers to date, the biggest barrier to heat pump installation growth is simply the low number of households choosing to get one fitted.

About 40 per cent of respondents to the survey conducted by innovation charity Nesta say a lack of demand was preventing the UK from reaching its heat pump targets. Almost a third (30 per cent) of respondents said finding skilled staff to carry out the work was a barrier.

Meanwhile, 45 per cent believed that customers who received a quote didn’t progress with a heat pump installation because of high costs. A further 27 per cent thought that customers received a cheaper quote from another installer.

A staggering 87 per cent of respondents want to increase the number of heat pumps they install each year, but reported challenges to making this a reality. 

In fact, the rate of heat pump installation is so low that it will have to increase 11-fold if the government is to reach its target of 600,000 heat pumps being installed in homes every year by 2028. The report said 55,000 heat pumps were sold in the UK in 2022, based on Heat Pump Association data.

The UK’s Labour party pledged to increase the rate of installation should it win power, with shadow Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero Ed Miliband saying in an interview that the UK’s heat pump take-up is “absolutely miserable” in comparison to other countries.

Lack of skilled workers is a barrier to installation, according to the report. The industry requires about 37,000 installers by 2030, compared with about 3,000 today.

“It’s clear that staff recruitment continues to be an issue for an industry that needs to expand to meet future demand,” says Nesta manager Oliver Zanetti. “To recruit the next generation of installers, colleges and industry must work together to improve apprenticeship courses.”

Click here to read the full report.

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