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Eco-problems mount - too few qualified heat pump installers

Another problem has emerged for the heat pump sector which had, until last week, anticipated rapid growth as part of the UK’s net zero commitments.

Industry experts worry there are insufficient qualified installers to scale up from fitting 60,000 heat pumps last year to an estimated 250,000 a year by 2025.

Currently, there are about 3,000 qualified installers but experts calculate the country will need 27,000 by 2028 to hit current government targets.


Mike Foster - chief executive of the Energy and Utilities Alliance, which represents heat pump manufacturers - says: "The demographics of transitioning to net zero is incredibly challenging. There's a disproportion of heating engineers aged over 50.

"It will require fresh entrants to the labour force and a large number will have to be trained quickly and well so that high-quality installers go into properties and that people feel confidence."

The National Federation of Builders is also concerned about the lack of installers highlighting that just a handful of companies accounted for the 60,000 pumps fitted last year.

NFB housing and policy head Rico Wojtulewicz says: "We don't have enough installers and we only have a few years to get ready."

Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering, CIPHE, chief executive Kevin Wellman believes there should be mandatory training for heat pump installation and a compulsory qualification.

"Heat pumps are a different type of technology from gas boilers running from lower water temperatures, so you need to be able to look at the fabric of a building, its pipework and radiator size. It's not a case of a like-for-like conversion course" he adds.

Under revised plans, the government will:

- Scrap policies to force landlords to upgrade the energy efficiency of their properties, but instead continue to encourage households to do so where they can;

- Raise the Boiler Upgrade Grant by 50% to £7,500 to help households who want to replace their gas boilers with a low-carbon alternative like a heat pump.

- Delay the ban on installing oil and LPG boilers, and new coal heating, for off-gas-grid homes to 2035, instead of phasing them out from 2026. Many of these homes are not suitable for heat pumps, so this ensures homeowners are not having to spend around £10-15,000 on upgrading their homes in just three years’ time.

- Set an exemption to the phase out of fossil fuel boilers, including gas, in 2035, so that households who will most struggle to make the switch to heat pumps or other low-carbon alternatives won’t have to do so. This is expected to cover about a fifth of homes, including off-gas-grid homes - those that will need expensive retrofitting or a very large electricity connection.

- Rule out policy ideas that would require people to share cars, eat less meat and dairy, be taxed to discourage their flying, or have seven bins to hit recycling targets – removing worrying proposals that would interfere in the way people live their lives.

- Move back the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by five years, so all sales of new cars from 2035 will be zero emission. This will enable families to wait to take advantage of falling prices over the coming decade if they wish to.

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    We haven't been training enough tradespeople for at least 20 years. Too many kids sent to mediocre universities to do poor quality degrees when what we really needed was quality apprenticeships.
    My 36 year old son wanted to be a plumber when he left school. He did a one year foundation course but couldn't carry on as he couldn't get an apprenticeship. He then did a one year foundation course in carpentry but couldn't carry on as he couldn't get an apprenticeship. He eventually got an apprenticeship in agricultural engineering and learnt all sorts of useful things including the fact he doesn't like cows and farmers don't pay much. Now he's a lorry driver and multi skilled operative for a concrete company. How many thousands of people like him should we now have as fully skilled heating engineers if politicians hadn't decided to look down on and under fund apprenticeships for the last couple of decades?


    Back in the day when I left school ,1968, we all walked into apprenticeships, bricklayers, carpentors, car mechanics etc and we all done well no need for a Mickie Mouse degree, that system had worked well for hundreds of yrs then Blair came along, try and find a trades man now, they are like rocking horse dropings and able to charge what they like.


    I was quoted £3000 for plastering work which would have taken less than a week.

    That plasterer is always busy so presumably earns over £100k pa.

    The vast majority of graduates, even those with proper degrees, don't earn that much.

    I bought heavy grade lining paper instead and paid £400 to get it hung and emulsion painted.

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    They haven’t been training trades people for years but they have been training them with iPhones and lap-tops one of the causes of homeless everyone having a dig, they know everything but can do nothing.
    They have training courses for landlords that were doing it before they knew there was a PRS. It seems all those guys from Social that make a complete mess of that moved over to destroy private sector that used to be nothing whatever to do with them.
    The Council’s should scrap the licensing Schemes or pay for their own administration costs, it’s they who wants its burdening PRS to make it malfunction.
    I remember when Councils were better at sweeping roads and maintaining drains a skill they lost put them back in training.
    They should reinstate wear & tear allowance for furnished lettings. I now see unfurnished changing more than furnished and cardboard on the windows for curtains, it’s like a mockery.
    The Chancellor should scrap the 45% income tax that prevents Private landlords from housing people, after all the other attacks and costs imposed if you still manage to survive amongst that 45% awaits.
    We have the option to withdraw our Services and learn how to become useless.
    They should increase the IHT Threshold, in America it’s £20m.
    We know there a move for letting Property to be Institutionally owned which is why the endless attack on us. Homelessness and landlord exit or Bankruptcy in the mean time doesn’t count its just collateral damage.

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    Jo, don’t get me started on Concrete lorries and watch the slump don’t spill on the Highway. I personally have placed tens of thousands m3 for sure. Also instrumental in installation the Concrete Plants including the Steelfields Batching Plant in 1973 for Brent Cross Shopping Centre, formerly the Hendon Dog Track.
    How many hundreds of thousands of cubic meters went through that Plant ?. Take a look if you are even in London it will blow your mind, now called The Westfield Shopping Centre, free parking believe it or not.

  • icon

    The comment that worried me was ……. They have to be trained quickly “” !! 🆘🆘 We all know what that means 😱😱. Is anyone really surprised by this ? 🤷‍♂️ I’m certainly not.

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    Perhaps the leaders of our FE colleges and universities should cancel a few Gender Studies courses and divert the lecturer/classroom resources to electrical and mechanical engineering.


    For the first time EVER I agree with you! I'm going for a lie down to recover.

  • icon

    BTW there’s NO shortage of air
    -to-air heat pump installers. We’ve just taken out an old gas boiler/wet rad heating system in an office we rent out and swapped it to Panasonic air-con splits. There was no problem getting 3x Panasonic approved installers out to provide sensible quotes and install timing.


    That was short lived back - to the 'EPC C is easy' we're so used to!


    Reallly. You think there are hundreds of domestic heat pump installers sitting around doing nothing and waiting for the domestic market to develop. The example you describe is commercial and the installers will be an experinced and primarily an air conditioning and refrigeration specialist installing systems in a commercial market which has been around for 30 to 40 years and definitely not a domestic heat pump installer , they will likely not be interested in the domestic market even if they have the capacity as it is well known that domestics are more trouble than they are worth and the profits are better with corporates and busineses who will pay more. so there are not many domestic installers in this developing market and many of those that are took a short conversion course as all they knew was boilers. A recipie for disaster.. I have been in this industry since 1964 and there has always been a shortage of skilled technicians who understand the principles of refrigeration. I was never out of work and had the pick of jobs worldwide throughout my working life due to the constant shortage of skilled and COMPETENT technicians.

  • icon

    Albert Einstein perhaps once said or wrote "Two things are infinite: The universe and human (Politician) stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe," or words to that effect.
    China and India are laughing at this soon-to-be third-world country as all the political parties
    want to destroy our economy.
    The future is hydrogen, but because of corruption, stupidity, and above all, the British terminal disease-
    short-termism, it will not happen.

    Matthew Payne

    I agree the future for our older housing stock is hydrogen and I believe it will happen, trails are now starting in 2024. Its easy to replace and switch the natural gas piped network over to hydrogen town by town as government has already said is the plan in early 2030s. Easy as well for the 6% of properties who use oil, hydrogen boiler and tanks swapped out like for like. For future new build, recent new build and very well insulated properties (ie have fundamentals like cavity wall ins), purpose built flats it may well be that electric boilers are part of the future because the need to burn anything with high performing insulation isnt required to keep them warm, whereas older properties will still need that instantaneous ability to increase temparature that only combustion can provide.

    Heat pumps wont feature.

  • George Dawes

    The whole 2030 agenda is rapidly falling like a pack of wet playing cards

    Wef - you've been rumbled !!

  • Matthew Payne

    I would have a plan B career option in place if I was a heat pump installer, there arent going to be that many fitted for too long...

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    Building costs gone mad we could do without the constant landlord attack by Government, lame duck Charities and Anti-Organisation's.
    We now have Traffic Creation Schemes in London blocking off Roads or taking away half the Road for Bicycle Lanes for non existent Bikes. Then Khan’s Congestion & ULEZ Charge plus 20 mph no wonder we are in a mess, don’t even mention Parking Charges. We used to be able to get a Trades person for £150. a day not too long ago now it’s more like a call out Charge.

  • icon

    Mathew that's nonsense. Hydrogen has a low calorific value and is made by synthesis of hydrocarbons, or electrolysis.


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