Green Bounce Back

The UK GDP fell 20.4% in April, the largest monthly drop on record.

Air transport fell 92% in a month. Hotels, restaurants, pubs and bars by 88% and Construction by 40%.

Whitehall is planning a Green Bounce Back from the recession induced by the lockdown imposed to hold back the spread of Coronavirus amid concern that the temporary measures to restrain Coronavirus have distracted from the largest long term problem facing humanity – the urgent need to stop climate change.

One of the largest causes of carbon emissions in the UK is the burning of gas, coal, oil and biomass to provide heating. There is an alternative to combustion for providing heating. We can use heat transfer instead of combustion and that means using heat pumps.

Heat pumps are currently the only practical solution to reducing carbon emissions from heating. This route has become radically more effective with the dramatic fall in Grid Carbon Factors. Electrification of heat is now the urgent priority. Heat pumps are the route to the solution.

As Whitehall plans the economic bounce back it should take note of the huge potential for job creation in the deployment of heat pumps.

Air source heat pumps Ground source heat pumps Water source heat pumps
Design of system Some design of system required – UK employment Critical design of system required – skilled UK employment Critical design of system required – skilled UK employment
Drilling or ground works A key cost factor – always creates UK employment A key cost factor – always creates UK employment
Heat pump Most ASHPs are imported – employment creation abroad – mostly in Far East Many GSHPs are imported – employment creation abroad – mostly Europe or Far East Many WSHPs made in UK – employment creation in UK

Most of the heat pump installers in the UK are SMEs. These small firms had little benefit from the RHI which has had only limited success in encouraging the uptake of heat pumps.

To achieve the Fifth Carbon Budget there is an urgent need to increase the number of heat pump installations from around 20,000 a year to over 400,000 a year, starting now.

There are very large UK employment implications if the Government decides to create the Fiscal Background to enable heat pump installations to take place.

It is important to remember that an investment in a ground source heat pump system by an individual, or a private sector company, is a private investment (of cash) for a public benefit (of lower carbon emissions for everyone).

Whitehall could achieve significant carbon emissions reductions and boost UK employment if it is prepared to encourage the SMEs that are ready to install ground source heat pump installations. A bonus would be a reduction in NO2 emissions – which have been a significant health risk for respiratory diseases like Coronavirus.


See Fiscal Background: UK energy prices


See Renewable Heating          See Renewable Cooling