Opposition politicians have strongly criticised housing minister Hugo de Jonge’s plan to require householders to switch to hybrid heat pumps from 2026.
Criticism came from populist parties such as JA21 and the farmers’ party BBB, but also from Labour (PvdA), who said the move did not take account of the high costs involved.
‘The cabinet sometimes seems completely detached from the concerns of ordinary people,’ said PvdA MP and former Greenpeace activist Joris Thijssen. ‘Of course heat pumps are the future, but a lot of people simply can’t afford them.’
A hybrid heat pump costs between €5,000 and €7,000, around three times the price of a gas boiler. Households can recover around one-third of the cost through subsidies, but many homes will also need to be better insulated before owners feel the benefit in lower heating bills.
Under De Jonge’s plan, homeowners would not have to switch straight away, but will have to install a heat pump the next time they replace their boiler after 2026. He said the ‘urgency of sustainability’ meant the government had to impose hard deadlines.
JA21 accused the government of forcing people to shoulder the cost of government schemes and said it should concentrate on supplying ‘sufficient and affordable homes’, while BBB MP Caroline van der Plas described the move as ‘completely cuckoo.’
‘The government wants to decide what people install in their own homes,’ Van der Plas told the Telegraaf.
Energy specialists have also warned of a shortage of qualified engineers and insulation materials. Some essential parts for heat pumps and solar panels are produced in China, where exports have slowed as large cities have been put back in lockdown because of a rise in coronavirus cases.
‘People are sometimes having to wait for months,’ water pump installer Patrick Schimmel told NRC last week. ‘Demand for heat pumps has exploded and we can’t deliver the service that’s expected of us,’ he said. Schimmel’s company has stopped taking orders for the rest of 2022 while it clears the backlog.
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