A standard heatpump uses around 3KW of electric and they’ve been hailed as the saviour of the planet, most noticeably by the UK Government. Boris Johnson talked of little else during the last quarter of 2020, outlining his plan to install 600,000 heatpumps a year by 2028. This was of course prior to his hosting COP26 in Glasgow, the following year. He didn’t announce how his ambitious plans for net zero by 2050 were to be paid for, but, hey, that’s a small detail when there’s a planet that needs saving. Johnson is now marking time, before his successor, likely to be Liz Truss, takes over at Number 10 in September, meanwhile, over in Norway, where heatpumps are extremely popular (604 heat pumps installed for every 1,000 households), there’s a problem that could blow a hole in Johnson’s theory that heatpumps are the ideal replacement for gas boilers in the UK. Norway uses hydropower for 90% of its electricity generation, the remaining 10% is generated by windpower, but, in the south of the country, low levels of rainfall have seen electricity price rises double that of the rises in the North where rainfall is ony slightly below seasonal averages. Now, rising electricity prices are becoming a major worry to the average Norwegian and they haven’t even got to Winter yet.
Electricity consumption is increased when heatpumps are installed and in Norway, a typical home will consume around 8,500 KWh of electricity per year, compared to around 2,900 KWh of electricity per year in the UK. Of course, homes with heatpumps do not consume natural gas, but, if all homes in UK were forced to install heatpumps, the average monthly electricity bill, at today’s prices, would be around £410 per household (UK’s energy price cap will probably see 60p per KWh from January 2023). So, are heatpumps the future for the UK? Who will pay for the installation, considering an average price of at least £10,000 per unit? Can the National Grid supply DOUBLE the demand in the Winter months once heatpumps replace gas boilers? How does a pensioner on £614 per month pay an average electricity bill of £410 per month? The energy crisis in the UK has seen unit electricity prices rise by up to 400% and the simple, easy solutions to achieve net zero that Boris Johnson promised us, may just turn out to be, more hot air from an over inflated wind bag.