Extension welcomed, but a long-term policy is still needed
The Government’s 10-point plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, which includes extending the Green Homes Grant (GHG) voucher scheme by a year, a target to install 600,000 heat pumps every year by 2028, and setting the ambition for a hydrogen heated neighbourhood for 2023, is a positive step in the right direction. But important questions remain as to how these will be achieved. Mark Wilkins, Head of Training and External Affairs at Vaillant Group, comments
“The development of hydrogen-ready boilers is one piece of the puzzle; the real challenge comes with creating the industry to produce hydrogen sustainably, with the skills and network to deliver it to UK homes and businesses on the scale required. So, we welcome the significant level of funding and clear timeline for the future of hydrogen, calling for the first ‘hydrogen town’ by the end of the decade. Green gas has an important role to play in decarbonising heat in our buildings, and we look forward to the anticipated National Hydrogen Strategy to provide more detail so that we can to train our gas and heating installers and provide them with the skills needed for the future energy mix.
“We also welcome the extension to the GHG. When the scheme was first launched, we had voiced concerns over whether the ability to install heat pumps and other low-carbon heating technologies in sufficient quantities would be limited by a shortage of installers. The extension to the deadline will allow more time for installers in the UK to get trained up and obtain MCS and TrustMark certifications.
“However, to meet the Government’s target to install 600,000 heat pumps every year by 2028, more needs to be done. To achieve this target, we will need around 26,000 qualified installers. At the moment, there are just under 1,000 MCS installers – nowhere near enough to deliver 600,000 units per year. If newly-built homes will need to be heated without fossil fuel heating from 2023, as some media reports have suggested, there will be insufficient installers on the ground to fit the types of low carbon technology permissible in these properties – including heat pumps - and provide comfort for their occupants.
“We, as a manufacturer, offer extensive training on designing and installing our heat-pump heating systems. We also work with industry bodies such as CIPHE (Chartered Institute of Heating and Plumbing Engineering) and HPA (Heat Pump Association) to ensure that installers can obtain the knowledge and competencies needed to deliver quality installations. But that’s not enough to solve the shortage of installers. Introducing other measures to encourage heating professionals to upskill in low carbon heating installations would help to increase the number of qualified installers on the ground.
“Not only do we need more installers to meet these ambitious targets, but more heat pumps. To enable our industry to make the levels of investment needed and expand production, we need a long-term roadmap from the Government setting out how the UK is going to decarbonise heat in its homes. We’ve put a lot of investment into heat pump technology, but without a consistent, long-term policy in place, not everyone in our industry is able to draw up adequate plans to ramp up production. Furthermore, a joined-up approach between all stakeholders involved in making decarbonised homes a reality would not be possible.
“We welcome the Government’s announcement and plans to invest more to drive a ‘green industrial revolution’. What we now need is a policy roadmap setting out government’s view on how the country will decarbonise its built environment in the long-term.”