Heat Pumps are Steering Scotland’s Pathway to Net Zero

Emma Bohan (Managing Director) and Lee Brown (Operations Director at IMS Heat Pumps)

ACCORDING to MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme), the standards organisation for small-scale domestic renewable energy and technology, Scotland has officially surpassed 200,000 small-scale renewable technology installations since records began in 2008.

That means 200,000 home and business owners have invested in low-carbon energy and heating solutions including solar PV and heating technologies for their buildings. The latest installation figures show that over 35,000 of these installations are heat pumps. 

Heat pumps are one of the most efficient and sustainable heating solutions for homes and are a vital part of Scotland’s plans to reach Net Zero by 2045. Scotland has historically led the four nations in terms of heat pump uptake in the UK, with 1.42% of Scottish households having a heat pump installed. MCS data reveals that just over 5,000 heat pumps have been installed in Scotland this year already, making 2023 Scotland’s best year ever for heat pump uptake. 

Since its launch in 2015, the Home Energy Scotland Grant (HES) and Loan has played a big part in Scotland’s transition away from fossil fuel boilers to heat pumps. The HES grant provides Scottish consumers with £7,500 towards the cost of a heat pump, with some Scottish households able to claim up to £9,000 with a rural uplift. The grant is an attractive incentive for Scottish homeowners which is also bolstered by an optional interest-free loan of up to an additional £7,500.

Daniel Merrett of Monikie, a rural village near Dundee, had an air source heat pump installed by IMS Heat Pumps in January, through the funding available from the HES grant. Daniel said that “the cost was a significant factor, and the funding available towards the installation cost was the deciding factor for me”. 

“My building contractor recommended IMS heat pumps as they had worked with them before and were satisfied with their work, and importantly were MCS Certified which was extremely important as I was utilising the Home Energy Scotland Grant with rural uplift and interest free loan to fund the installation.”

Lee Brown, Operations Director at IMS Heat Pumps added: “Heat pumps are an obvious option for rural homes, particularly those off the gas grid. The incentive scheme offered by the Scottish Government is a huge help for homeowners in Scotland looking to decarbonising their home heating, and we’re pleased to see incentive schemes in England and Wales have recently been brought closer to the level of offering provided north of the border.”

The Scottish Government also provides heating engineers with a grant to become MCS certified for heat pumps. The grant will pay 75%, up to a maximum of £1,000, of a contractors’ certification fees until the end of March 2024. This is great incentive to encourage heating engineers to transition away from the installation of fossil fuel boilers, and towards the installation of high-quality MCS certified heat pumps. You can read more about the Scottish Government’s MCS Certification Fund on the Energy Saving Trust website here.

A recent report published by the Heat Pump Association (HPA), “Unlocking Widescale Heat Pump Deployment in the UK”, made a series of recommendations to local and national Government officials to support the mass-scale rollout of low-carbon heating. Among them were urging England, Wales and Northern Ireland to introduce similar support for installers such as the MCS Certification fund in Scotland to grow the workforce. The HPA also recommended those Governments introduce both rural uplifts and interest-free loans, as Scotland does, to optimise the Boiler Upgrade Scheme and other national policies.

HPA CEO Charlotte Lee said of the need for long-term policy support:

“All our politicians must hold firm and introduce the long-awaited policy changes needed to maintain investor confidence and transform the heating industry in the coming years.

Doing so will certainly be in the long-term interests of society– decarbonising in the lowest cost way, as well as reducing both consumer bills and dependency on imported fossil fuels.”

Speaking about the success of low-carbon heating in Scotland, Ian Rippin, MCS CEO, told us: “Scotland is primed to support the rollout of heat pumps and the Grant and Loans Scheme offered by Home Energy Scotland and the Scottish Government has made them an achievable, affordable option for thousands of homeowners.

“The MCS Certification Fund is also helping hundreds of installers meet industry-expected standards of skill and competence to supply these technologies. If we are to reach UK targets of installing 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028 and match supply with public demand, we need to see more supportive policies just like those in Scotland already.”

You can track the UK’s renewable technology uptake via the MCS Data Dashboard, the most comprehensive tool for near-real-time, low carbon technology data in the UK. Here you can compare the four home nations, examine local authorities in detail, and even track trends in uptake over the last 15 years. To use the MCS Data Dashboard, sign up for free now.


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