TownRock’s vision of a major increase in heat pump use in the UK was given a big boost by a report from the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) last week. The NIC exists to provide government with impartial, expert advice on major long term infrastructure challenges. It seeks to improve competitiveness and quality of life, and to support sustainable economic growth, climate resilience and the transition to net zero.

In its Second Assessment, published 18th October 2023, the NIC set out the agenda it recommends governments follow for the next 30 years. Amongst its key recommendations, the NIC says electrification of heating (i.e. large scale use of heat pumps and heat networks) is the solution to decarbonise the heating of buildings at scale, to reduce fossil fuel use and lower energy bills over the long term, and to meet the UK’s climate targets. Commenting on the alternative route of switching the gas network to hydrogen, the NIC calls on the government to rule out hydrogen for heating homes and to focus hydrogen on power generation and industrial decarbonisation.

Specifically, NIC recommends government should allocate £6.4bn per year for the electrification of heat and energy efficiency. Of that total, 20% should be used to cover the full cost of heat pump installations for lower income households, 30% to provide an upfront grant of £7,000 to other households (and provide 0% financing for the remaining cost), and 50% to improve energy efficiency and install heat pumps across the public sector estate and social housing.

TownRock support the NICs assessment that heat pumps and networks are the solution for decarbonising the heating of buildings and that hydrogen should be ruled out for heating homes – it should instead be preserved for industrial uses.