As HVAC manufacturers and the federal government discussed ways to remove barriers to the wider adoption of heat pumps, South Korea’s LG Electronics announced plans for a new U.S. factory that will build components for the energy-efficient electronic heating and cooling systems.

Thomas Yoon, president and CEO of LG Electronics North America, said LG will, “in the near future,” make indoor components for heat pump systems in the U.S. for the first time. “Soon thereafter,” said Yoon, the company will also start building outdoor heat pump units in the U.S.

The announcement came April 4 at the White House in Washington, D.C., where Yoon gathered with other HVAC industry leaders and several Biden administration officials for a roundtable on heat pump manufacturing and deployment.

“We see heat pump products as integral parts of the green, smart-home ecosystem, complementing connected appliances and, most importantly, integration of energy storage and energy management with advanced software and platforms,” said Yoon in prepared remarks.

Details of LG’s plan, such as where the factory will be located and when production might begin, were not available, said John Taylor, senior vice president for public affairs and communications at LG Electronics USA.

While heat pumps outsold gas furnaces in the U.S. for the first time in 2022, and consumer incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) are expected to boost sales, roundtable participants discussed what they called barriers to the wider adoption of heat pumps, especially supply-chain snags, affordability, limited public awareness of their benefits, and a shortage of technicians trained to install them.

Industry leaders suggested the government could help overcome such hurdles.

“We focused on opportunities to make these advanced heat pumps more accessible to all Americans, including robust incentives that reduce the total cost of installation, and increased support for workforce development and vocational training,” said Takayuki Inoue, chief sales and marketing officer for Daikin Comfort Technologies, another roundtable participant. Daikin manufactures heat pumps at a factory in Texas.

“Our members produce the most innovative, energy-efficient equipment available anywhere in the world, but they need government assistance to educate consumers on the benefits of heat-pump technology,” Stephen Yurek, president and CEO of AHRI, said after the meeting in a press release. “Furthermore, because of the sophisticated technology involved, heat pumps require highly skilled installers, so workforce development is another area with which government can be of assistance.”

Yurek also called for “timely guidance” on the IRA’s incentives as a way of addressing the heat pump affordability gap. The IRA’s incentives are designed to promote decarbonization and building electrification and reduce the amount of fossil fuel burned in HVAC systems.

“We applaud the government’s major investments in driving demand through tax incentives and rebates,” Yoon said. “However, lack of awareness and familiarity about the benefits of heat pump technology is a barrier to market adoption.”

Yoon said LG plans to use its facilities across the country to train technicians on heat pumps. “But the supply of qualified installers is limited, and perhaps there are ways government can help address this shortage and support more training,” he added. Yoon also urged the government to improve the supply chain by continuing efforts to reduce shipping costs and port congestion.

Representing the Biden administration at the roundtable were Ali Zaidi, the White House climate advisor; Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm; and John Podesta, senior advisor for clean energy innovation and implementation.

In a statement released after the meeting, the White House noted that nearly 40% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings.

“Deploying heat pumps in millions of American homes and buildings, alongside energy efficiency improvements and clean energy deployment, will help tackle the climate crisis, boost our energy security and independence, lower energy costs for American consumers, create good-paying jobs for American workers, all while improving health in our communities,” the statement said in part.