Following the announcement of a new £450 million Boiler Upgrade Scheme which will see 90,000 old boilers replaced with heat pumps, Mark Krull from LCL Awards calls for calm among gas installers – for those who want a career as a low-carbon heating engineer, gas installer training is the best place to start.
As part of its new Heat and Buildings Strategy, the government has announced funding to replace old gas boilers with highly efficient heat pumps. But there is no need for gas engineers to panic! Those with heating and hot water qualifications under their belt are in the best possible position to take advantage of the transition to heat pumps when the time is right for them.
Gas qualifications in demand
We have around 22 million gas-heated homes in the UK – appliances which will require safety checks, maintenance and repairs for many years to come. There are around 1.7 million new gas boiler installations every year with a life span of 15 to 20 years. At the moment, this compares with just 35,000 heat pump installations; even if this increased to 600,000, that still leaves over a million gas boilers required to meet heating demand.
Traditional heating qualifications are often pre-requisites to heat pump and renewables training and leading industry authorities agree that the market will rely on those with existing skills. The Heat Pump Association says that “the initial growth in heat pump installers will need to predominantly come from those already installing traditional heating systems. The fundamentals of heating do not change with a switch to heat pumps, in the current installer base many of the skills required for low carbon heating installation are already in place and these will need to be built upon.”
Look beyond the headlines
We are living through a time of great change – political, social, technological and environmental. What we’ve seen since recently, particularly since the start of the pandemic, is the media reporting something, often speculative, and everyone panicking – buying excessive amounts of toilet rolls or filling up their cars to beat a largely avoidable fuel shortage.
The same is true in our industry. Taken at face value, some media noise about the rapid expansion of the heat pump market and developments in hydrogen may cause concern to those considering training a career as a Gas Safe registered engineer. However, you don’t have to look too far beyond the headlines to see that gas engineering offers a prosperous career now that opens many doors to ongoing success in a low-carbon future.
Mark Krull is the Managing Director of LCL Awards