Climate Action

Report: UK energy efficiency push offers just a third of the investment needed

Report finds that only two percent of heat pumps needed to meet net zero emissions goal have been installed by UK government.

  • 17 July 2020
  • Joana Costa Figueira

Report finds that only two percent of heat pumps needed to meet net zero emissions goal have been installed by UK government.

According to a new report from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPRR), the government has installed less than two percent of the heat pumps needed to decarbonise the nation’s homes.

In order to meet its 2050 net zero target, the report find that 12 million homes will need to be fitted with energy efficiency measures over the next 30 years.

The left-leaning think tank is calling on the government to adopt a comprehensive Home Improvement Plan to catalyse progress on the green heat sector to tackle the 14 percent of total UK emissions that comes from homes.

According to the report, the number of energy efficiency upgrades, heat networks and heat pumps are below the required value “to meet the UK’s legally binding net-zero target by 2050.” It recognises that cuts to funding are the cause of efficiency measures dropping to 12 percent of what is needed.

Titled All hands to the pump: a clean heat plan for England the report is a response to Sishi Sunak’s pledge to fund a new £3bn energy efficiency plan. Although this is a step in the right direction, IPPR stresses that the projects “need to be extended beyond one year” with increased investment and policy reforms in order to support social and private renters.  

Jonathan Webb, research fellow at the IPPR, said: “A low-carbon heat strategy built around heat pumps would provide a tech-ready plan for decarbonising our homes. Adopting this technology now, and supporting its uptake, will allow industry to focus on the challenge ahead and enable the training of workers to behind in earnest.”

IPPR calculated that in England, it will take almost £10.6bn a year of private and public investment until 2030 followed by a further £7bn between 2030 to 2050 to deliver the scale of change required to meet the UK’s net zero targets.

The current rate of installation means that the 2.4 million fuel-poor homes in England would not achieve an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of C until 2091, missing the government’s fuel poverty target by 60 years. The Clean Heat Grant proposal for heat pumps would also cost the poorest households up to 60 percent of their average annual income.   

The Retrofit Fund for England is another policy measure proposed by IPPR. With £5.3bn of funding a year until 2030 followed by £5.3bn until 2050, grants would cover 50 percent of the cost of heat pump installation, with the remaining cost subject to means-tested support; a training programme for clean heat installers; and the creation of advice service to guide households on how to use and maintain the kit once installed.

IPPR said the extra investment would bring “considerable rewards beyond helping to tackle the climate crisis”, including the creation of 275,000 jobs in England alone and lower energy bills for households.

To read the report, click here.