Major incentives are needed if 600,000 heat pumps — a key component of retrofitting Irish homes — are be to installed by 2030, leading energy experts have said.
The International Energy Research Centre (IERC) at Tyndall National Institute in Cork says "capital grants, tax breaks, zero interest loans and employment training" will have to be introduced if the 600,000 target of environmentally and cost efficient domestic heat pumps by 2030 is to be reached.
The Government's climate action plan in 2019 aims for 600,000 heat pumps in Irish homes by the end of the decade, of which 400,000 will be retrofitted to existing homes, and will replace fossil-fuel boilers.
IERC experts said that although the current programme for government includes a plan to install heat pumps in homes that are already suitable, it is not yet clear how the wider targets will be achieved.
It published a report on the barriers to meet the target, as well as best practices in international policy and existing scientific research to combat them.
Professor Brian Norton, head of energy research at Tyndall, said: "The findings of this report lay out the strategies of countries leading the heat pump market and will enable policy makers and ministers to focus on areas that need to be prioritised."
Author of the report, IERC senior energy policy analyst Dr Piyush Verma said the current pandemic has made renewable energy even more urgent as houses have become both home and office.
"People need warm, healthy environments without a surge in home heating costs," he said.
“In Ireland, a lower penetration of heat pumps is primarily due to three factors - lack of awareness among consumers; a lack of a strong consumer proposition; and lack of policy support to overcome the high initial installation cost for heat pump technologies."
He compared Norway, with 400 heat pumps per 1,000, to Ireland with 10 per 1,000 homes.