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The UK out on £65 million every year by the end of the decade if it does not speed up the rollout of pumps, energy have said.

Three-quarters of the UK’s boiler are to countries that have phase-out dates before 2030 and the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) said the Government is jeopardising this income by not providing greater support to pump manufacturing.

Using United Nations trade data, the ECIU said of central heating boilers roughly halved between 2019 and 2022 – from £150 million to £85 million – which they suggested may be down to countries moving away from gas boilers as a result of the energy crisis and aims of reaching net zero.

Around three million heat pumps were sold in Europe in 2022, an increase of 40% from the year before, taking the total to more than 20 million, according to the International Energy Agency.

The UK’s existing boiler manufacturers must be able to see the writing on the wall

Jess Ralston, Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit

ECIU energy analyst Jess Ralston said: “The switch to clean heat is continuing at pace outside of the UK as the US and Europe learn their lesson from the gas crisis. It’s starting to look like we haven’t.

“The UK’s existing boiler manufacturers must be able to see the writing on the wall.

“With clear signals from Government on the future of heating at home, we can take our expertise abroad and get ahead on heat pumps before we lose our place amongst the leaders of the world’s heating industry.”

Heat pumps are generally more efficient than gas boilers but installing them can be prohibitively expensive for many people.

Luke Sheppard, a gas boiler-turned-heat pump installer from Peacehaven, East Sussex, said fitting a heat pump costs between £2,000 and £5,000, but many houses also need remedial work to make them more efficient, which can take the total price to between £15,000 and £25,000.

We’re investing billions to improve energy efficiency across the country

Department for Energy Security and Net Zero

Under the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, homeowners in England and Wales can get a Government grant of £5,000 towards a heat pump as long as their house has cavity wall and loft insulation and a valid Energy Performance Certificate, while in Scotland up to £7,500 is available.

Grants in Northern Ireland do not cover heat pumps, with up to £1,000 available for a new gas boiler or to help switch to one using wood pellets.

The UK Government wants there to be 600,000 heat pump installations a year by 2028, though its advisers have warned that installation rates are currently well off track, with other European countries much further ahead.

A spokesman for the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero said: “We’re investing billions to improve energy efficiency across the country, with over £81 million in vouchers issued to installers in the first year of our Boiler Upgrade Scheme.

“We are seeking to boost domestic production of heat pumps through the Heat Pump Investment Accelerator Competition as part of our aim of realising a 30-fold increase in the number of heat pumps made in the UK by 2028.

“We are fully focused on meeting our aim of 600,000 heat pump installations a year by this date – and consumers can now install one for an increasingly similar price to a gas boiler.”

Ireland imported the most gas boilers from the UK in 2022 – around £50 million worth – but from 2025 boilers that break down will have to be fitted with a non-fossil fuel system.

Germany and the Netherlands, which each imported £4 million and £1.3 million of central heating products from the UK in 2022, also have targets to phase out fossil fuel boilers by 2025 and 2026 respectively, although the Netherlands will still allow hybrid systems, the ECIU said.

The Government has committed the UK to phasing out gas boilers in new homes from 2025 as part of the Future Homes Standard, but it is yet to confirm a proposed ban on all fossil fuel boilers in off-gas grid homes from 2026.

It wants to phase out all gas boilers in the UK from 2035 and has recently confirmed that it will introduce the clean heat market mechanism from 2024, requiring all fossil fuel boiler manufacturers to make a set proportion of heat pumps.

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