How to scale a highly skilled heat pump industry – Nesta report published
12th July 2022
Nesta have used MCS data to produce a new report examining how the UK will have to grow its low-carbon heating industry in coming years to meet Government targets.
The Government have set a target of installing 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028. To reach this, the industry will need to considerably increase the number of certified heat pump installers to match demand for renewable heating.
This report comes shortly after the Spring 2022 update to the BEIS public attitudes tracker. The BEIS Heat and Energy in the Home public attitudes tracker found 24% of homeowners would install a heat pump or already have. Government action and incentives have previously been designed to increase public opinion, but research is starting to show that there is already a demand for heat pumps in the UK. A major hurdle to overcome is increasing the amount of skilled labour in the industry and creating a pipeline of talent into the sector.
Nesta found that to meet Government targets, around 27,000 heat pump installers will be needed. The report estimates that there are currently 3,000 in the UK, meaning that to grow that much by 2028, we would need at least 4,000 new installers each year for the next six years.
To make this possible, we need to encourage installers into the industry from two separate sources. We will need to foster talent from a young age and produce heat pump installers among school leavers and graduates entering the job market for the first time. We also need to retrain existing oil and gas boiler installers in renewable heating and encourage them to move from traditional heating sectors to the green sector.
Using MCS data, Nesta also noted that there are currently around 1,300 smaller certified companies, or companies not specialised in heat pump installations. To grow the industry and support potential new entrants, we need to see either more companies, or bigger companies.
The report also notes that the heating industry is one of the least diverse parts of the UK economy. The industry needs to work to attract potential installers from currently underrepresented communities.
How we get there
The report makes a number of recommendations to government and the industry including:
- The Government should appoint a body to oversee the expansion of the low carbon heating industry
- Colleges, Government and training providers should collaborate to establish direct training routes, implement hiring processes to attract a diverse workforce, improve public perception and understanding of heat pumps
- The government should examine how to address the pay disparity between traditional heating installers and renewable heating installers
- The Government should provide training grants to incentivise traditional heating installers moving into the renewable industry and sharing their expertise
- More formal support should be given to small companies looking to grow under umbrella arrangements
You can read the Nesta report in full or the policy summary here.
Nesta produced this report using installation data gathered by MCS and stored in the MCS Installer Database. The MID is the most comprehensive reference for small scale, renewable energy installations in the UK. This data allows MCS to support the renewable heating and energy industry as an expert repository of information.