A new report from Gemserv has found that at current installation rates for heat pumps and insulation, local authorities in the South West will fail to meet targets set to heat homes more sustainably and reduce emissions.
Many councils across the region have set themselves goals to reach net zero by 2030. With around 20% of UK carbon emissions coming from our homes, to achieve these targets nearly every household in the South West would need to be properly insulated and heated by a heat pump within the next seven years.
The report was written by Gemserv on behalf of the South West Net Zero Hub working with the region’s Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPS). The objective of the research was to define the gap between current skills and workforce supply and the net zero ambition communicated by local authorities.
The research found that at the current rates of deployment of insulation and heat pumps councils and other regional stakeholders tasked with decarbonising domestic buildings are at severe risk of missing both local and national targets.
The report states that, without significant investment in skills and improvements to the supply chain, it could take several hundred years to install the measures needed to heat the region’s homes sustainably and reduce emissions to reach net zero.
Skills shortages were identified in a range of roles including retrofit assessors and coordinators, installers of heat pumps, plumbers, heating engineers and technicians, as well as key gaps in the provision of qualifications for insulation and double-glazing.
Despite obvious challenges, Gemserv’s research identifies opportunities for the South West. The report points out that the region has unique strengths that position it well to expand in the relevant sectors including widespread provision of training for heat pump installers and a skills sector that are aware of the challenges and keen to engage and collaborate.
The report finds that there is an economic case for fast action on decarbonisation and meeting net zero targets. It estimates that the low carbon heating and insulation sectors could contribute up to £21.8bn to the South West’s £164bn economy between 2023 and 2050.
Will Taylor, senior low carbon consultant at Gemserv, said: “Gemserv is proud to support the South West Net Zero Hub in undertaking this research. It is critical that action to accelerate net zero is based on clear evidence. The South West is experiencing skills shortages in areas critical to the net zero transition.
“However, we found that there is a clear economic benefit to the region in these changes and some obvious strengths on which to build the South West can now take informed action to drive change with the support of people across the region.”