On 12th October , GTEC’s MD , Griff Thomas, presented the challenges and solutions to the heat pump roll out at the Midlands Net Zero Hub Conference, which took place at Nottingham Council House.
Over the past four years, the Hub has been assisting local authorities in the region and beyond by developing and financing projects that support the net zero agenda. The annual ‘Midlands Net Zero Conference’ focussed on practical ways that public sector organisations can reduce their carbon emissions.
Griff contributed to a section on ‘supporting a green economy’ , looking at the success GTEC and the Midlands Zero Carbon Hub had in delivering the ‘Renewable Heat Installer Training & Support Scheme (RHITSS), which provided funding towards heat pump training in 2021. Nottingham College, a GTEC centre specialising in heat pump training, was one of only a handful of locations suitably equipped to deliver heat pump qualifications under RHITSS.
Griff discussed how the UK in general needs to accelerate skills provision to support the path to Net Zero. He stressed the importance of industry consultation and reassurance – many manufacturers and installation businesses invested heavily in renewables when the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) was launched in 2012, only to see business disappear when the scheme was over.
We now need a robust 10-15 year plan, with heat pumps and other low carbon technologies considered a mainstream option.
Training must be standardised and incentivised – in his work as an auditor, Griff often sees poor installation work, with an average of 50 – 80% non-conformances. Quality installations are key to creating energy efficient systems that keep occupants warm while being cost-effective. Bad experiences amongst early adopters of this technology will only serve to dent consumer confidence.
Presently, there are only 3,000 trained installers in the UK, working across 1,300 companies. If we are to meet the governments target of 600,000 heat pumps installed a year, we need 27,000 trained installers by 2028 and 62,000 by 2035.
More funding is required to assist with this massive upskill task, delivered in an easy to access and uncomplicated way.
Even with training, heat pump installation is far more complex than a gas or oil boiler, particularly at the design and specification stage – something many plumbing and heating engineers are ill-equipped to deal with. To help ease this process and improve consumer confidence, Griff is part of the team (Thormer Solutions) currently developing an app – Total Heat Pump Installation Solution (THIS).
Part funded by Department For Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy , the app and supporting software will provide a cradle to grave support mechanism, including heat loss calculations, 2D/3D modelling and AR/VR design functionality, removing uncertainty for installers and their customers.
THIS is scheduled for first trails in spring 2023. Thormer is currently looking for potential stakeholders, interested in helping to develop the app to meet the needs of the industry, such as heat pump manufacturers and energy companies.
As Griff concluded “With the right people in the room anything is possible, you just have to know the right people” … The ‘Right’ people now need to get together to make the heat pump roll out work – for the industry, consumers and the world at large.