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Heat Pump Association launches ‘critical’ training course

Adoption of heat pumps are expected to grow substantially in coming years. Image: Western Power Distribution.

Adoption of heat pumps are expected to grow substantially in coming years. Image: Western Power Distribution.

The Heat Pump Association (HPA) has launched a new training course, with over 40,000 installers each year set to benefit from it.

Available at 38 training centres around the UK, the course aims to equip the heating industry with the skills needed to deliver low carbon technologies to British households.

In Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Ten Point Plan, released at the end of 2020, this was further cemented with a target of 600,000 heat pump installations a year. This will help decarbonisation efforts and boost green jobs, with the plan estimated to create 50,000 jobs in the heat pump sector by 2030.

The HPA training course has been welcomed by energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, who said it was a “great example” of how the government and industry can work together to create the high-skilled jobs needed for decarbonisation.

“The government is absolutely committed to working with industry to drive down the costs of heat pumps over time so they are increasingly affordable for consumers.

“While heat pumps are fast becoming a natural option for households, we need to ensure we have enough skilled tradespeople to hit our target of 600,000 installations each year by 2028 – so the Heat Pump Association setting up this training scheme is absolutely critical in this endeavour.”

Pressure is growing in the UK to decarbonise the heating sector, but there are a number of challenges facing it including concerns around the workforce as adoption ramps up together with economic challenges. This includes environmental levies being weighted towards electricity rather than gas, driving up the cost of switching to a heat pump for many.

The Green Homes Grant – which offered financial aid for the installation of heat pumps – was shuttered early, greatly reducing the support available to homeowners. Additionally, despite continued calls for the Treasury to remove VAT on green technologies including heat pumps, it looks set to reject such a suggestion as it would “impose significant additional pressure on the public finances”.

In a report in April, energy suppliers warned that action needed to be taken to ensure Britain got the economics of heat decarbonisation right, or it would risk failure. For the UK to hit its net zero target, the installation of low carbon heating systems needs to increase from 26,000 a year currently to 1.2 million by 2030.

The new training course will help cross one of the barriers to the uptake of heat pumps however, ensuring there are sufficient skilled installers available.

“The heat pump industry is now fully equipped to lead the way in transforming the way homes are heated to reduce carbon and lower energy bills,” said Phil Hurley, chair of the HPA.

“Importantly, we are also supporting plans to build back better through upskilling existing heating installers so that they are equipped with the tools and skills they need to allow consumers to access heat pumps as a solution to decarbonise their homes.”

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