A government pilot project will install electric heat pumps in 750 homes to demonstrate the feasibility of a large-scale rollout of the low-carbon heating technology.
The £16.5 million Electrification of Heat Demonstration Project will install heating pumps and energy efficiency measures in homes across a representative range of architectural types, the majority of which will be on the gas grid.
The scheme also hopes to attract enough household participants that it can conduct suitability surveys on 1,800 homes, to understand the feasibility of the technology across the UK’s diverse housing stock.
The project aims to demonstrate that heat pumps, including gas-electric hybrids, can deliver high satisfaction to a range of consumers and to demonstrate the viability of heat pumps as a renewable alternative to traditional gas heating.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industry Strategy (BEIS) is also seeking to learn how to increase awareness and public support for heat pumps across the UK. It hopes to develop, test, and evaluate innovative products and services which increase the appeal of heat pumps for consumers.
The use of heat pumps is seen as vital to decarbonising the UK’s heating systems and helping the country meet its net-zero emissions goal by 2050.
Currently, heating spaces and the water used in them accounts for around half of the UK’s energy consumption and contributes a third of its greenhouse emissions.
The UK has committed to deriving 12% of its heat from renewable resources by 2020, but as of 2017, just 7.7% of heat was renewable. 85% of homes are heated by gas boilers, using natural gas, a fossil fuel.
Low-carbon alternatives to gas boilers include electric heat pumps, including ground source, water source and air source pumps; biomass stoves and boilers; solar thermal connectors; and large-scale combined heat and power systems (CHP).
The BEIS is seeking bids for the management and running of the project. It expects to appoint a contractor to manage and coordinate the project on behalf of the department, as well as three regional contractors to deliver the project and an independent contractor to evaluate the delivery against performance metrics.
Members of the public who are interested in participating in the project and receiving free heat pumps and energy efficiency upgrades should stay tuned for more information about eligibility requirements.