France is cutting carbon from heating buildings ten times faster than the UK by deploying more than ten times the number of heat pumps, a new report states.
Last year, France saw 621,000 heat pumps being sold, saving 15.6Mt of CO2 emissions, while the UK sold just 55,000 heat pumps, saving 1.5Mt of CO2 emissions and had the lowest installation rate of 21 European countries.
The UK government has set a target of installing 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028, meaning they must achieve a ten-fold increase in deployment within five years to catch up with where France is at now.
The new report, by MCS Charitable Foundation, assesses why the UK is lagging behind targets and sets out lessons the government must learn from France if it is to meet climate change goals.
It highlights how the French government seized opportunities when there was disruption in global energy markets to refocus attention away from gas and oil onto electrifying heat. In addition, France has had energy efficiency standards for new-build homes for more than a decade that have accelerated heat pump deployment and energy efficiency has been a political priority across different political parties.
In 2019, Emmanuel Macron’s government introduced financial incentives that saw a near-doubling of air-to-water heat pump installations within a year, building on previous incentive schemes, according to the report.
As a result of sustained support for heat pumps, France had more than 30,000 full time jobs in the heat pump industry in 2019, and increased from 100,000 sales in 2010 to over 600,000 sales by 2022, the report stated.
By contrast, in the UK in 2019, there were only 2,000 jobs supported by the heat pump industry and only a tenth of the number of heat pump installations seen in France.
The UK is now beginning to scale up heat pump deployment, seeing a 40% increase in the heat pump market in 2022 since the energy crisis began. But rather than a gradual rise in heat pump numbers, as France has achieved over 15 years, the UK government must now initiate an exponential increase in the heat pump market, it was added.
The rate of growth the UK must achieve would be “unprecedented”, but could deliver as many as 50,000 new jobs as well as cutting energy bills and carbon, according to the MCS Charitable Foundation.