Proposed Heat Pump Federation
There are exciting proposals for the Ground Source Heat Pump Association to merge with the Heat Pump Association to create a more powerful unified voice to speak for the heat pump industry in the UK: the Heat Pump Federation.
Heat Pump technology has come through a fairly rough decade of successive well-meant but poorly constructed government policies and fluctuating oil prices but there is now considerable hope for the future. The carbon battle has been fought and largely won, with the well-flagged removal of coal from electricity generation, and of oil from the heat in buildings between now and 2030. A snapshot of the carbon advantage of the deployment of heat pumps is now constantly available in the Carbon Emissions Calculator on this website. However, new challenges will need to be met if we are to see heat pumps become the mainstream building services technology.
Lobbying for Heat Pumps
The electrification of heat is a core government policy, but this cannot be taken for granted. Biofuels and hydrogen are being proposed as alternative energy sources, and the reducing carbon factor for grid electricity brings into play the prospect of direct resistive electrical heat as a genuine low carbon alternative. These other technologies are very well supported by strong backers with deep pockets. In many ways, they are stronger and better financed than the oil, gas and biomass sectors which heat pumps have had to contend with in recent years. For heat pumps to thrive and to gain an appropriate share of a mixed energy sector, serving a flourishing UK economy, our lobbying and representation at government level and at all other points of contact, such as BRE, MCS, OFGEM, Each Home Counts, CIBSE and with specifiers, will need to be as robust as we can make it. It is also essential that the heat pump sector is united from end to end; from supply chain, right through to end user.
United voice for the heat pump industry
The GSHPA Council has debated this future and has sought to learn the lessons from the past. Fragmentation of heat pump representation has always confused those who we interact with, especially the Ministry, and has provided other technologies with a clear divide and conquer opportunity. To combat the new forces ranged against us and to ensure that heat pump technology has the strongest possible representation in the coming years, the Council proposes that the existing two heat pump Associations merge to form a single united body with the critical mass and combined resources that both have struggled to attain independently.
Integration of manufacturers and installers
Our Association is largely installer lead. By contrast, the Heat Pump Association is largely manufacturer based. There are obvious synergies. Many of our installers work with both ground source and air source heat pumps. Most of the manufacturers produce both types of heat pumps. Many of our installers are already working closely with the manufacturers that they represent by taking part in the various approved installer schemes. There is no longer any real argument to be had between ground source and air source. A maturing heat market recognises that each approach has its place and for one to thrive, both must thrive.
In addition to merging the two Associations it is proposed that the new Heat Pump Federation will become a member of The Federation of Environmental Trade Associations, FETA. Taking a place inside this industry federation will strengthen the voice that the heat pump sector will enjoy and will encorage heat pump technology on the path to its rightful place within the building industry in the UK as "core environmental technology". We all need heat pumps to be the mainstream technology of first choice to deliver heating and cooling to both domestic and commercial buildings, new build and retrofit. This must be the aim of the new Federation.
Support from all members
To be successfull, any merger must have the greatest possible support from the members of both merging Associations and early indications are that the proposal is being welcomed by nearly all members of both Associations.
A detailed proposal will be published to allow our members to have the opportunity to consider the proposals prior to a vote on persuing the merger plans at the AGM to be held at the National Motorcycle Museum on 20th September. The Council hopes that as many members as possible will attend this meeting and participate in the debate and vote. In the meantime, some initial questions that are likely to be raised have been addressed in a Q&A below. Members are encouraged to provide initial feedback and comments either via Jen Billings, or direct to any Council members with whom they have existing relationships.
The Council hopes that all our members will recognise that a changing world needs a new approach to heat pump representation, and commends the proposed merger to you and looks forward to providing a fully developed proposal for your consideration over the coming weeks.
Q & A
Q Is this a merger or a takeover?
A This is a merger of equals. Whilst the memberships of the two Associations are very different, each has strengths that will be brought into the new combined Federation. The manufacturers fully recognise the value that installers, many of whom run their own small businesses, bring to the sector, and see the merger as a route to providing enhanced end to end support. There will be no dilution of the installers' voice in the new Federation.
Q. How will the new Federation be run?
A. A new democratic structure will be developed on a basis of one member, one vote. Very special care will be taken to ensure that all special interest groups are supported and catered for. No one will be left behind and the new Federation will not be dominated by any one group to the detriment of others.
Q. Will membership fees increase?
A. The levels of fees currently paid into the existing Associations are very similar. Initial work confirms that the existing budgets remain entirely valid and so no increase in fees will be required to support the merger. The plan is to get additional income by recruiting new members.
Q. What is the role of FETA?
A. FETA includes a secretariat body which provides professional back-office services. It has a collective building industry voice that will help the heat pump sector with reach and scale that two smaller associations cannot achieve separately.
Q. Why is this happening now?
A. The GSHPA has developed a great deal over the last three to four years. It is now financially stable but is still struggling to increase membership. Soundings have been taken from prospective members of a new consolidated Federation and these have been positive. It is anticipated that the new, enlarged body will be much more attractive to new members. The situation for the HPA is very similar. It is only with scale and increased collective membership that we can ensure that the heat pump sector prospers and grows in the UK.
Q. Why should I support this merger?
A. The world in which we operate is changing fast. Individually, both the GSHPA and the HPA risk being left behind and out-gunned by the lobbies promoting direct electric heat, biofuels and hydrogen. If you believe in heat pumps as a technology, being a part of a new and much more robust trade body is the best possible way of ensuring that the heat pump sector will develop and thrive as it needs to in support of the efficient decarbonisation of heating and cooling.