In Conversation with The Heat Pump Association

REI speaks with Charlotte Lee who joined the Heat Pump Association in April 2023 as its first Chief Executive.

In Conversation with CHarlotte Lee of The Heat Pump Association

Having spent the previous 10 years at NAPIT, a UKAS accredited Certification Body for installers in the Building Services and Fabric sectors, culminating in leading their external affairs function, Charlotte has a wealth of knowledge in the practicalities and policy that surround the retrofitting of the UK housing stock, specifically relating to heat pumps. Charlotte has a strong understanding of the vital role of the installer and the importance of consumer demand and industry collaboration in affecting change.

What is the purpose of your organisation?

The Heat Pump Association provides a dedicated voice for the UK heat pump sector. Our primary goal is to facilitate the widespread deployment of heat pump technology throughout the UK, to reduce emissions from home heating which account for nearly one-third of the country’s carbon emissions, in support of achieving the UK Government’s net zero by 2050 target.

Who is the membership of the organisation?

Our membership comprises a diverse range of stakeholders, including manufacturers of heat pumps and their component parts, installers, training and awarding organisations, certification bodies, energy suppliers and professionals involved in the heat pump industry. We welcome any organisation who is involved in the study, design, manufacture, supply, installation or use of heat pumps and have various membership levels to suit differing interests.

How many members do you have?

As of our latest count, we have 77 member organisations actively contributing to the Association’s initiatives and working collectively towards a greener and more sustainable future. We represent any organisation with an interest in heat pumps and, within our membership, represent heat pump manufacturers which provide over 85% of the heat pumps in the UK. 

What are the objectives of your organisation?

Key objectives include:

Policy & analysis: publish informed, well-constructed, evidence-based policy advice to support the Government’s thinking to enhance heat pump market growth within the UK. 

Quality, safety, standards and training: engage with proposed technical updates, facilitate discussions on any technical clarifications needed to bring clarity to the sector and provide an industry stance on changes needed for training and technical standards/guidance.

Membership: grow the membership to represent all aspects of the heat pump supply chain to enable effective positioning.

Sales data: facilitate the collation of reputable monthly UK heat pump sales data to share with members and stakeholders.

Effective communications: both internal communication to members to share knowledge and external communication to position the HPA as an authoritative respected industry voice.

Speak with one voice: provide a united industry voice, working with key stakeholders to align policy proposals, calls for action and be representative of the complete heat pump supply chain.

Why should our community join?

Joining the Heat Pump Association provides numerous benefits, including:

Advocacy and policy: stand behind informed, well-constructed, evidence-based policy advice to support heat pump market growth with the UK. Lobbying and advocating for favourable government policies, incentives, and regulations that promote the adoption and deployment of heat pumps in the UK, including incentives for consumers and businesses to switch to heat pump technology.

Shape the future of the heat pump sector: HPA members directly influence the HPA’s strategic policy and heat pump policy through consultation responses, working groups and surveys. 

Updates and analysis: HPA members get access to the latest policy developments, and unique market updates and analysis created to suit members demands.

Business development: benefit from strategies and innovative ideas to expand the market for heat pumps including consumer awareness campaigns, industry collaborations and efforts to increase adoption rates. 

Quality, training and standards: through establishing training standards and feeding into certification, HPA members get to input into improving the quality and safety of heat pump installations whilst benefiting from sharing best practice amongst our members and the wider industry. 

Networking and collaboration: attend networking opportunities, knowledge sharing and collaboration among members with relevant stakeholders, such as policy officials, energy utilities and distributors, certification schemes and training providers to foster a support landscape for heat pump deployment.

What are the current challenges facing your members and the broader sector?

The HPA recognises the pivotal role heat pumps will play in achieving decarbonised heat but acknowledges challenges hindering widespread adoption. These include: 

Cost of living concerns: consumers are grappling with energy crisis-driven inflation and interest rate hikes, are hesitant to embrace heat pumps. Being able to demonstrate competitive running costs compared to gas boilers is vital which is why we are calling for levies of electricity bills to be removed to reduce the price of electricity.

Political uncertainty: evolving political discourse, especially pre-election, introduces uncertainty. Recent policy adjustments have impacted market confidence, emphasising the need for consistent progress towards net zero despite political shifts.

Myths and misinformation: misleading media content perpetuates myths, hindering consumer acceptance. Industry efforts, including enhanced training and collaborative initiatives we hope will aim to dispel misconceptions and restore confidence.

Despite challenges, the HPA remains optimistic about the industry’s future. Ongoing research and policy advocacy underscores the commitment to overcoming obstacles and contributing to broader decarbonisation goals

What are your main current activities?

Currently we are focused on promoting our recently published ‘Unlocking Widescale Heat Pump Deployment in the UK’ report. This report provides a comprehensive roadmap and clear collection of policy recommendations for accelerating the adoption of heat pumps in the UK. As the UK Government considers how to meet its legally binding net zero emissions target by 2050, it is clear there is a critical need for highly efficient and sustainable solutions in the heating sector. Heat pumps are emerging as the cornerstone of this transition, offering extremely efficient, low carbon alternatives to classic heating systems for both residential and commercial applications.

Key highlights of the report:

Comprehensive analysis: The report offers a thorough examination of the current state of the heat pump industry in the UK, outlining existing barriers, opportunities, and the economic benefits of mass adoption.

Policy recommendations: It provides a clear set of well-researched policy recommendations aimed at creating an environment conducive to widespread heat pump deployment. These recommendations are backed by extensive research and the expertise of HPA’s well-versed membership.

Alongside this, the HPA’s working groups continue to work hard to improve industry standards, guidance and policy around technical, training, commercial and marketing issues. 

We are also undertaking research to inform discussions around the best approach to rebalancing levies on domestic electricity and gas bills in a way that reduces the price of electricity relative to gas.

What would you most like to see changed to accelerate growth in the adoption of low carbon technologies?

We have worked collaboratively with members to compile a list of our key policy recommendations for unlocking the deployment of heat pumps in the UK. This includes recommendations around reducing upfront and running costs, enhancing the installer workforce, increasing consumer confidence, supporting the development of heat networks and improving and investing in innovation and market drivers. The full list of recommendations can be read on our website.

If I was to be pushed on my top three asks, they would be:

  • Reduce the price of electricity relative to gas.
  • Publish the technical consultations on the Future Homes and Building Standards and commit to a 2025 implementation.
  • Support the installer base by proving enhanced incentives to train to become a qualified heat pump installer, including compensating for the opportunity cost of undertaking the training, as well as introducing a requirement for all heating engineers to have low temperature heating training.