Making the most of business opportunities in the renewables sector

Making the most of business opportunities in the renewables sector

Griff Thomas from GTEC, the Yorkshire based training centre specialising in renewables, urges installers to take up training in renewable technologies and make the most of the business opportunities that lie ahead.

In some respects, reluctance is understandable. A recent report by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) highlighted the impact of poorly administered schemes such as the Green Homes Grant on the take up of training; such negativity mustn’t be allowed to stall progress.

Installers need to embrace the fact that the UK is embarking on a green revolution and with a little bit of training, they’re in a great position to deliver the goods, as well as benefit from a huge opportunity for business growth. The government could certainly do more to implement and fund installer training programmes to support its ambitious policies, but for forward-thinking engineers, there are some great opportunities out there, right now.

The government has promised 600,000 heat pump installations a year by 2028. At the moment we don’t have nearly enough installers to meet this target – there are only around 1,000 MCS certified heat pump installers. Compare that to the to 130,000 Gas Safe registered installers and you begin to see the urgency.

Growing consumer interest
Until recently, consumers have had very little choice when it comes to their heating. The vast majority are fixed up to the gas mains, others run their heating systems on oil.  However, there are now viable alternatives to fossil fuels. End users are waking up to the fact that through a combination of new heating technologies and insulating materials their homes can significantly reduce environmental impact.

Low-carbon heating isn’t just for new-builds either – there are 27 million older homes and two million commercial and industrial buildings to retrofit. This is a staggering figure and without a significant increase in the number of skilled tradespeople we won’t be able to deliver the governments’ legally binding aims. In order to meet demand, installers need to be trained, qualified and accredited in a variety of low-carbon technologies to specify and fit heating solutions appropriate to the 21st century.

Looking back at the EAC’s report there’s a real fear that the current lack of trained and accredited tradespeople will jeopardise the heat pump installations the government has committed to.

Future proof your business
We read every day in the press and on social media, scare-mongering stories about the death of gas, so for engineers with an eye on the future there’s never been a better time to up-skill. Most experienced installers can train in the installation of heat pumps in a week. Surely that’s a worthwhile investment in terms of time and money to future-proof a career?

Our heat pump course is a Level 3 qualification designed in association with the Awarding Body, LCL Awards. It covers all you need to know about the installation, commissioning and maintenance of Air Source Heat pumps, and enables candidates, on successful completion, to register with the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS).

It’s time for engineers in the heating industry to grasp the nettle and make a tangible contribution and commitment to a more sustainable energy future. As well as the future of their own careers.

Heating begins at home
One of GTEC’s recent ASHP learners, Darren Jones, runs a plumbing and heating company based in Kirkby Lonsdale. Darren was impressed with heat pump technology, and on completion of the course, he installed an ASHP at home.

Darren said: “I’ve been interested in renewables for a while now.  A lot of our customers live in the countryside and aren’t connected to the grid. At the moment they rely on oil, which is messy, smelly and unpredictable in terms of pricing. People are increasingly interested in greener options for heating; it’s really just a case of educating them – letting them know about the alternatives.

“I couldn’t very well extol the virtues of renewables whilst running my home on a gas boiler, so I decided to put my money where my mouth is and install an ASHP at home. I honestly haven’t looked back. It’s brilliant – and so much more interesting than a gas boiler.

“The fact that I’m now running my home on renewables makes it a lot easier to persuade my customers to go green – and we’ve never been busier!”

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