This Editor's Comment is from our February 2020 issue.

As I write this issue’s column, Chinese New Year has come and gone. It’s now the Year of the Rat (for those that don’t know) and, although there isn’t a zodiac for the plumbing and heating industry, I feel compelled to raise the question: is this going to be the year of the heat pump?

In recent months, I’ve met with several manufacturers who are planning to put increasing focus on heat pump technology in the coming year. It makes total sense – although heat pumps have never truly gained as strong a foothold in the UK as they have in parts of continental Europe, the atmosphere is ripe for a potential breakthrough.

The government’s target to hit net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 means that there is a need to swap to low carbon heating sources quickly. Thirty years may seem like a long period but, in that time, the government has to completely change the mindset of not just the industry, but also the general public. Heat pumps, while perhaps still on the periphery of the public’s consciousness, are now an established technology in the UK. 

Hydrogen-ready boilers, one of the other proposed technologies to help us reach net-zero carbon, are still in the development phase, and are realistically years off commercial availability, but can the government afford to wait that long? The heat pump industry can certainly point to the advantage that the technology is ready to roll out now.

So, what does that mean for installers? It’s very likely that the heat pump market will continue to grow, and that upskilling will likely be on the cards for many of you. I understand there may be some scepticism, more than a few installers got their fingers burned when the likes of the Green Deal rolled around years ago, promising a big uptick in interest for renewable technology, which then failed to materialise. 

However, this time around, the stakes are arguably much higher – the government has a firm commitment to reducing carbon emissions, plus public opinion has shifted massively in the past 10 years on the importance of sustainability, so the demand from the consumer for a more environmentally-friendly option is there.

We at HVP do think heat pumps are going to be important going forward, which is why, for the first time, we’ve introduced a new feature category dedicated to heat pumps. It starts on p37 of this issue, so head there to hear from Dr Matthew Trewhella at Kensa Contracting as to how getting trained on heat pump technology can help you futureproof your business.