ReEnergise has joined the Pump it Up Campaign as the education specialist, to highlight the challenges and issues schools face in trying to decarbonise the generation of heat on their estates.

The Pump it Up campaign is calling on the government to do more to support large-scale heat pump projects. Heat pumps, allied with a rapidly decarbonising national electricity grid and on-site power generation to run them, represent the optimum low-carbon solution for many school estates for the foreseeable future. Compared to other heat decarbonisation options, these projects are characterised by their high efficiency, high flexibility and low emissions. But they are expensive to install and in most circumstances it will require some form of external financial support to generate a business case attractive enough to persuade a school to convert from the incumbent fossil fuel.

The evidence is clear enough: the government’s initiatives to date have helped to some extent but have failed to live up to the expectations of both consumers and policy-makers alike. Furthermore, heat pumps have recently been identified – by the government – as one of the key technologies that will need to be spread rapidly around the UK as part of the so-called Green Industrial Revolution: but the government is not yet doing enough in practical terms to make that aspiration achievable. What it gives with one hand, in schemes like the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS), it takes away with the other by making it much too difficult in practical terms for most schools and other large-scale heat users to harness the support. The RHI is about to close, with no sign of any successor scheme on the radar. The PSDS – also now closed for bids – was headlined as support for heat pumps as well as energy efficiency measures to reduce energy demand; but in the event the PSDS has prioritised short-term, easy projects that are the work of a couple of months, meaning that heat pump projects have not made the cut. (It takes at least half a year to complete a large-scale heat pump project, if it’s going to be done with the necessary care and attention to detail).

The Pump it Up campaign has members from a wide variety of sectors, including retail, utilities, agriculture, housing and academia. We want the government to recognise that if it is serious about achieving net-zero by 2050 then it is going to need to do much more to support the proliferation of large-scale heat pumps, including in the nation’s schools.

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