‘The moment is now’: an in-depth look at the Boiler Upgrade Scheme
14th April 2022
The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is launching the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) on Monday 23 May 2022.
Announced in the government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy, the BUS is a new, flat, upfront grant scheme providing £450million of support over three years. The scheme aims to boost uptake of heat pumps in line with the government’s wider target to install 600,000 heat pumps per year by 2028.
It allows consumers to apply for a one-off grant payment of £5,000 towards the cost of an air source heat pump (ASHP) or £6,000 towards the cost of a ground source heat pump (GSHP). In limited circumstances, biomass is eligible also.
Overall, the BUS is a core part of the UK’s net-zero commitments, so it simply must work. Today, our sector needs government policy support to encourage consumer interest in heat pumps – and to install them.
I was also encouraged to see the removal of VAT on renewable technologies for five years in the government’s spring statement (March 22), which will make a BUS grant go even further.
A heat pump revolution
This is a real opportunity to enhance the home heating revolution with proven heat pump technology.
Consumer confidence in heat pumps is growing. MCS data shows that heat pump installations are at an all-time high, with just under 30,000 installations registered in 2021, more than double those in registered in 2019 pre-pandemic.
We are also seeing record numbers of contractors applying to be MCS certified, wanting to participate in a thriving domestic renewable energy technology sector.
The BUS is designed to be an easy-to-access, simple financial incentive for consumers and industry alike to decarbonise the heating of our homes: one of the major sources of emissions in the UK.
As a scheme we’ve done our best to inform BEIS and the scheme administrator, Ofgem, on how this scheme should be managed and delivered – from consulting on the initial proposals to sharing installer feedback and representing industry priorities.
Nobody wants a repeat of the Green Homes Grant voucher scheme, which is why we have given a voice to industry as plans for the BUS developed.
How does the BUS work?
Installers will be able to make voucher applications for consumers on 23 May 2022. Installations commissioned from 1 April 2022 onwards are eligible to apply for the BUS.
Registration for installers to make applications under the BUS opened on Monday 11 April 2022. You can access the Ofgem guidance on BUS here.
Addressing key concerns
We are aware of several concerns that some installers have expressed about the gap between commissioning a system and the scheme opening. There are also some rumblings among installers regarding a lack of clarity on the eligibility criteria.
In terms of the gap between commissioning and launch, we understand that Ofgem has enabled enough time to ensure a smooth roll-out of the BUS, with space to iron out any issues should they arise.
However, we recognise the business challenge posed by this uncertainty as the scheme gets off the ground.
Manufacturers will likely need to draw breath following the end of the Domestic RHI and so we believe there will be an enforced gap in installations due to supply chain challenges.
As a result, we have written directly to BEIS and Ofgem to share the feedback from our installer community and reiterate our call to make the BUS as easy to navigate as possible.
We will continue to monitor the launch of the BUS very closely and raise concerns should there be issues like those that beset the Green Homes Grant voucher scheme.
For now, check the dedicated BUS section of our website and our social media channels for the latest BUS updates as we get them.
If you have any queries in relation to the BUS, feel free to contact the MCS Helpdesk team on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ian Rippin, CEO of MCS