Government minister Greg Barker has indicated he plans to change the commercial Renewable Heat Incentive to include air-to-water heat pumps.

Speaking in a meeting with the directors of four industry trade bodies, Barker said the industry had made a "very strong" case that heat pumps should be included and that, subject to undertaking the proper processes within government, he would seek to find a way to fast-track their inclusion ahead of other changes to the RHI planned for next summer.

Dave Sowden, chief executive of the Micropower Council, said:“We are delighted that the Minister has given such a positive response to many months of calls to end a harmful distortion in the commercial renewable heating market. With the Minister foursquare behind the case for doing so, we’re now very optimistic this will be fixed as quickly as possible”.

Tony Bowen, president of the Heat Pumps Association, added:“We are delighted that the Minister has made a firm commitment to the inclusion of air to water heat pumps which will now be able to take their rightful place alongside ground to water heat pumps in the RHI to provide a further important and robust strand to the renewable agenda. Timing is, of course, imperative and we trust that we will see this happen for the beginning of 2013.”

Roger Webb, director of the Heating & Hot Water Industry Council (HHIC), added:“This is a very welcome development and one that will give a much needed boost to the air source heat pump industry.”

The non-domestic RHI opened in November 2011 and supports biomass boilers, ground source heat pumps, bio gas and solar thermal technologies. While air-to-water heat pumps were initially excluded due to a lack of cost data, this data was subsequently provided.