Record number of heat pumps installed in UK homes in 2023
2023 saw a nearly 20% jump in certified heat pump installations compared to the previous year, as demand for renewable energy technologies reached its highest ever level in the UK.
The UK registered over 220,000 heat pump and solar panel installations in 2023, surpassing a previous record set more than a decade ago, year-end figures reveal.
The vast majority of installations were solar panels, with nearly 190,000 households and businesses opting to install them. This is the highest number since cuts to the Feed-in Tariff subsidy in 2011.
But it was the heat pump sector that saw the greatest breakthrough, with a 19% increase for all heat pump types compared to 2022, which was itself a record year, according to the figures compiled from the MCS database of certified renewable energy installations. There was a 25% increase in MCS certified air-source heat pump installations last year. The total number of certified heat pumps installed across the UK has now surpassed 200,000.
The MCS Foundation said that heat pump uptake was being driven by demand for carbon-free heating, supported by government grants. The Government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme grant was increased in October last year from £5,000 for an air-source heat pump to £7,500, with applications for the grant up by 50% following the introduction of the higher rate.
The growth in heat pump installations looks set to continue, with the Government currently consulting on plans to require all new homes to have a heat pump or be connected to a low-carbon heat network from next year. New rules are also coming into force this year that will require boiler manufacturers to sell a proportionate amount of heat pumps relative to their boiler sales, under the Clean Heat Market Mechanism.
But the MCS Foundation warned that despite the upward trend, the UK is still falling short when it comes to heat pumps. The rate of installations will need to accelerate more than tenfold within the next four years to meet the Government target of 600,000 a year by 2028.
David Cowdrey, Director of External Affairs at the MCS Foundation, said: “It is very encouraging to see the growth in all renewable energy, and particularly heat pumps. More households than ever are opting for these carbon-free and highly efficient heating systems that are zero emissions at point of use.
“But while we can expect a continued upward trend in heat pump installations, thanks to the introduction of higher grants, we will still need additional policies to achieve the exponential growth that is required now. Such policies should include reducing electricity costs to encourage heat pump uptake while tackling fuel poverty. This could be achieved by moving social and environmental tariffs from electricity bills into general taxation, and would make running heat pumps substantially cheaper than a gas boiler.”
Charlotte Lee, Chief Executive of the Heat Pump Association, commented: ‘It is great to see a 25% increase in MCS certified heat pump installations in 2023 compared to the previous year, demonstrating an increasing interest from consumers to switch to lower carbon heating systems. With the advent of the Clean Heat Market Mechanism and the Future Homes Standard, we expect this number to continue to rise in 2024 and beyond and the supply chain is gearing up to deliver. With consumer demand for heat pumps rising, we encourage all heating engineers to look ahead and invest in heat pump installation training to support the anticipated deployment and to future proof their business.’
Thomas Nowak, secretary general of the European Heat Pump Association (EHPA), commented: “The strong showing from the UK is testament to the importance of stable, supportive policies to ensure heat pump manufacturers, investors and consumers have confidence in the sector. The EU and its member governments must follow suit to put heat pump sales back on track. More generally, ensuring the electricity price is no more than double the price of gas is critical to making heat pumps the most wallet-friendly as well as the most sustainable option Europe-wide.”
– ends –
Notes to editors
Figures for certified installations are from the MCS data dashboard, which records all MCS certified installations of solar panels, heat pumps, and other renewable technologies: https://datadashboard.mcscertified.com/ Not all installations will be MCS certified so total numbers of installations will be higher; however the MCS database is the only source of confirmed installation figures.
The total number of certified installations by technology for 2023 were:
· Solar PV: 189,836
· Air source heat pump: 36,799
· Ground or water source heat pump: 2,469
· Total heat pump: 39,268
· Total technologies installed in 2023: 229,618
· Total renewable installations to date: 1,727,606.
The previous yearly record for heat pump installations was in 2022, when there were 32,910 installations (29,490 air-source heat pumps), driven largely by a spike in March 2022 as households and businesses installed the technologies before the end of the Renewable Heat Incentive grants.
Year-on-year comparisons using Ofgem figures that applications for the Boiler Upgrade Scheme were 50% higher following the introduction of the higher (£7,500) grants in October.
There have been no Government subsidies for solar panels since 2019.
Under current Ofgem price caps, electricity prices in the UK are nearly four times those of gas, at 28.62 pence per kWh compared to 7.42 pence per kWh.