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The Market Trend of Heat Pumps in the UK

Views: 371     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2022-06-21      Origin: Site

There has been a significant increase in demand for high capacity, low carbon heat systems in many European markets. This sudden upsurge was triggered by several factors, including mounting concern about the recent increase in energy costs. The UK witnessed double-digit growth in sales for high-capacity heat systems in 2021.

The analysis conducted by BSRIA estimated a 27% increase in average sales for heat pumps designed for commercial use in major European markets. The sudden demand for sales was way more than the usual average and was facilitated by generous financial incentives to convince various groups to adopt carbon-lowering HVAC units.

The research determined that air source heat pumps sold more than water-source systems even though they cost less. Heat pumps have gained momentum in such a short period because they provide a much-needed solution to the current emission crisis.


Heat Pumps in the UK


Despite the growing inclination to heat pumps, the UK currently depends on gas systems to heat their homes. Estimations suggest that 85% of heating systems operating in the UK are gas boilers, and 1.5 million gas boilers are installed yearly, making it the biggest boiler market among European nations.

Renewable sources of heating represent 2% of the UK's heating systems. There are many market barriers affecting the purchase and distribution of heat pumps in the UK, including low running cost savings, high upfront costs, etc. However, let's discuss how heat pump heating solutions are beneficial to the UK and the global effort to fight carbon emissions.


heat pump


Why is there a lot of urgency for people to switch to heat pumps as their primary heating and cooling solutions?


The building sector (including public, residential, and commercial properties) is responsible (both directly and indirectly) for 30% of total global energy consumption and about 55% of global electricity consumption. Additionally, building construction accounts for about 28% of CO2 emissions.

People and various institutions look at decarbonization as the main priority to achieve climate neutrality on a global scale. Cooling and heating systems are the main operations in the building sector, heavily contributing to CO2 emissions. Currently, heating is responsible for about 45% of emissions.

Most heating systems still rely on fossil fuels to supply over 55% of the total energy consumption. The building sector is set to have doubled by 2070, and space cooling will follow it closely to provide comfortable access to another 5 billion people globally. As such, various institutions have turned to heat pump technology for applicable solutions that can help construct sustainable buildings.


Market barriers affecting the sale and distribution of heat pumps in the UK


While implementing sustainable heating and cooling solutions is the UK's current intent, many issues affect the effective implementation of said strategies. Some of these issues include:


High upfront costs


Installing heat pumps has significantly higher costs than gas boilers, especially if you plan on installing ground source heat pumps. Gas boilers can be installed with 20% of an air source heat pump system's installation costs. Additionally, it's not yet custom for most individuals in the UK to invest in heating systems.


Low running cost savings


Heat pumps are popular in other European nations because they have relatively low running costs since they use a smaller fraction of electricity than electric heating methods that are normally used. However, in the UK, the cost of electricity per kWh is significantly more than the cost of gas, making the operation costs for heat pumps higher than their rewards.


Distribution network inadequacy


The UK's distribution network is designed to supply homes with one-phase electricity, making it less suitable for connecting heat pumps because they are considered huge loads. The best solution for this situation would be equipping heat pumps with regulation devices that control the operating time and promote softer operation starts.


Houses


Heat pumps require more space than gas boilers. Thus, they would need to be placed in the living room since it has the largest space. The heat pumps could be placed in the basement; however, UK houses either lack basements or are too small for heat pumps to be installed effectively. The houses also have low thermal inertia, which isn't beneficial for using heat pumps successfully.


Drivers for the growing trend of heat pumps in the UK


As mentioned above, despite the challenges mentioned above, there is a growing marketing trend for heat pumps in the UK. This is hugely due to various positive trends and government measures. Some of the major drivers include:


Reduction of running costs


Heat pump technology is growing, which may improve their performance and make them more competitive in a market flooded with gas boilers. Their installation costs remain higher than gas boilers; however, their running costs are set to decrease, rapidly making them an ideal solution for heating and hot water supply.


Renewable heat incentive


The UK's DECC (Department of Energy and Climate Change) has fostered the use of renewable energy sources by providing financial incentives. This has convinced more individuals to switch to heat pumps for home heating solutions. The financial incentives include getting a grant when installing a heat pump.


Utilities' engagement


Utilities supply to more than 90 % of UK heating market customers. The UK has more gas boilers than heat pumps for some specific reasons mentioned above; however, the growing inclination towards heat pumps has made them confident and ready to step into the market.


Building regulations


The UK government has set regulations to create new "Zero Carbon Homes," encouraging more people to install heat pumps. However, it would help if you remembered that there are several other solutions for achieving zero carbon homes, and it doesn't necessarily mean that the homes will use heat pumps as their only heating solution.


heat pump


Commercial use of heat pumps


Twenty million households installed heat pumps in 2019, and future projections show that there'll be increased growth. Others estimate that the market may double by 2025. However, how does this relate to commercial uptake?

There is hard evidence suggesting that there'll be increased commercial uptake for heat pumps. Most heat pumps are designed for small and medium-sized commercial users like hotels, offices, and schools. However, the market for heat pumps isn't where it should be.

UK's vision for reducing carbon emissions by 2030 implies a chance for the market to grow and cover bigger commercial applications. They may install multiple heat pumps to extend the maximum heat output capacity. There's more evidence to support this thought.

For starters, other developments in the market meant to boost and influence the effectiveness and uptake of heat pumps point towards increased demand. For instance, advancements have been geared towards building more efficient compressors and compression systems designed to use thermal stores.

Such technological solutions to current problems and innovations designed to make heat pumps more efficient play a crucial role in determining whether there'll be a continued upward trend for heat pump demand in the UK.


The reality


Heat pumps are a reliable, inventive, and renewable strategy that residents can use to heat homes more efficiently. However, they do face a challenge in commercial applications. Commercial entities can benefit greatly from installing heat pumps to tackle their heating challenges cost-effectively.

However, the entire process has some challenges that have made it hard for them to install the heat pumps. For instance, ground source heat pumps require them to dig up part of their property, which can be time-consuming and costly. Additionally, installing heat pumps comes with high upfront costs. Finding a proper solution to these issues could help boost the number of units sold in the future.


How innovations in heat pump technology will accelerate heat pump installations?


Several heat pump innovations are ready for deployment. However, various challenges are making this difficult, including varying demand patterns, diversity in building types, and climate conditions. These barriers require further enhancements in heat pump technology to adapt to various working conditions.

Research and several reports conclude that technological advancements play a strong role in broadening the heat pump applicability to various markets, ensuring they become scalable. For instance, additional innovations in vapor-compression equipment are needed to penetrate the heating market.


Are heat pumps part of a green future?


Getting the right answer to this question demands us to answer one simple question: Are heat pumps good at reducing the carbon footprint? Heat pumps are a safer alternative, but like other products, there are some pros and cons.

For instance, heat pumps can be beneficial for people heating their homes with fossil fuels. Using heat pumps provides a better and more reliable heating alternative. However, experts warn that the refrigerant fluid used to conduct heat could cause more problems to the environment if it leaks, but the chances of this happening are minimal.


Conclusion


The information and research indicate a good chance that demand for heat pumps will remain upward. Unless there is another heating asolution, working on and improving current models seems the best option. The UK's determination to minimize its carbon footprint will also help boost sales. The current oil crisis doesn't help matters very much either.



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