Heat pump targets may require 150,000 installers, finds research

installers

The 50,000 installers required to meet the government’s ambitious annual heat pump installation target of 600,000 may be three times lower than the number required, research has revealed.

Developing from discussions within the Heating and Hotwater Industry Council (HHIC) Systems Group, chaired by Steve Keeton, the organisation has conducted extensive investigations of working practices through the membership. It has revealed a figure of circa 150,000 workers is required to meet the government’s target if today’s working model is followed.

Not only does this finding triple current predictions, it also reveals the need for 100,000 new entrants to the industry – a figure almost equivalent to the entire current Gas Safe Register. To align with net zero by 2050 there is an urgent requirement to decarbonise UK heating systems, with many leaning on the promise of increasing heat pump installation.

Whilst a positive initiative, data from the HHIC suggests the actual workforce requirement to attain 600,000 new installations per year could heavily outweigh current estimates, by as much as 200%.

Steve said: “The industry is at a pivotal point, with an ageing workforce and exacerbated demand for modernised skillsets we really must look to new entrants as fundamental in providing the solution. The government must push harder than ever to engage and incentivise existing heating engineers to build skills in renewable technologies. In addition, it must attract more new people to enter the industry and appeal to the younger generation to proactively include low-carbon technologies in their portfolio. It is the cornerstone we need in order to achieve our nation’s emissions goals.”

Whilst heat pump installation is a priority, the HHIC says there is no one silver bullet approach to decarbonisation. Collectively, the UK must look towards supplementary alternatives if its to hit 2028, and 2050 sustainable heating targets. A hydrogen economy is cited as the next step in heating system developments, with the HHIC noting the importance of recent government proposals to mandate hydrogen-ready boilers. This government initiative is backed by UK manufacturer’s ‘price promise,’ meaning the boilers installed in 1.7m homes each year could be ready for net zero at no extra cost to consumers compared to equivalent models today.

Steve added: “It is imperative that the UK’s heating strategy looks at a multi-dimensional approach. This gives the Installer options and the customer choice. If we are to successfully meet our 2050 ambitions, Heat Networks and hydrogen must be part of the strategy in tandem with heat pump initiatives. This is inevitably going to require an upskilling, and incentivisation, of the workforce, so we must work from the grassroots up in order to create the bedrock of multi-skilled installers to successfully decarbonise the heating economy.”