The heat pump industry faces a growing challenge in its pursuit of supporting the UK’s net zero commitments. Until recently, it had anticipated rapid growth, but a new obstacle has emerged. Experts are concerned that there aren’t enough qualified installers to meet the escalating demand. Last year, approximately 60,000 heat pumps were installed, but the goal is to reach 250,000 installations annually by 2025.
At present, there are around 3,000 qualified installers in the field. However, calculations indicate that the country will require 27,000 installers by 2028 to meet the current government targets. Mike Foster, the CEO of the Energy and Utilities Alliance, an organization representing heat pump manufacturers, acknowledges the daunting demographics of transitioning to net zero. There’s a significant proportion of heating engineers aged over 50, which poses a challenge.
Addressing this issue will necessitate a wave of new entrants to the labor force, and they will need to undergo rigorous and efficient training to become high-quality installers. This is crucial to ensure that installations are of a high standard and that people have confidence in the process.
The National Federation of Builders (NFB) shares the concern regarding the shortage of installers in the heat pump industry. Last year, only a small number of companies were responsible for the installation of 60,000 heat pumps, which raises alarm bells.
Rico Wojtulewicz, Head of Housing and Policy at the NFB, emphasizes the urgency of the situation, stating that there’s a limited timeframe to prepare for the increased demand.
Kevin Wellman, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE), advocates for mandatory training in heat pump installation and the introduction of a compulsory qualification. He points out that heat pumps operate on a different technological basis compared to gas boilers, functioning at lower water temperatures. As a result, installers need to possess the skills to assess a building’s structure, pipework, and radiator size. It’s not as straightforward as a one-size-fits-all conversion course. These measures are essential to ensure the safe and effective installation of heat pumps in various settings.
The government has introduced revised plans which include the following key points:
1. Energy Efficiency Policies: The government will no longer enforce policies requiring landlords to upgrade the energy efficiency of their properties. Instead, it will continue to encourage households to make these upgrades voluntarily.
2. Boiler Upgrade Grant: To support households in transitioning from gas boilers to low-carbon alternatives like heat pumps, the Boiler Upgrade Grant will see a 50% increase, raising it to £7,500.
3. Delay in Boiler Bans: The ban on installing oil and LPG boilers, as well as new coal heating, in off-gas-grid homes will be postponed to 2035. This extension grants homeowners more time to prepare and avoids the need for substantial home upgrades within a short timeframe, which could cost approximately £10-15,000.
4. Exemption for Fossil Fuel Boilers: An exemption will be implemented for the phase-out of fossil fuel boilers, including gas, in 2035. This exemption is aimed at households facing significant challenges in transitioning to heat pumps or other low-carbon alternatives. It is expected to cover roughly one-fifth of homes, particularly off-gas-grid properties that may require expensive retrofitting or extensive electricity connections.
5. Policy Clarifications: The government has clarified its stance on certain policy ideas, ruling out measures such as car-sharing mandates, dietary restrictions on meat and dairy, flight-related taxes, and complex recycling targets. These proposals that could have impacted people’s lifestyles have been removed.
6. Extension of Petrol and Diesel Car Sales: The ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be postponed by five years, making all new car sales from 2035 emissions-free. This extension allows families to wait and benefit from decreasing prices in zero-emission vehicles over the next decade if they choose to do so.
Read more Property Investing News HERE