Heat pump HELL as engineer shortage threatens to delay installation by weeks

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A new report warned by heat pump manufacturer Baxi Heating has warned that most heating engineers in the UK currently do not have the qualifications necessary to install heat pumps. This has raised concerns the Government’s target to equip 600,000 homes with heat pumps a year by 2028 will not be met.

However, a shortage of engineers trained to install heat pumps also means that as the demand for replacing gas boilers with energy-efficient heating systems increases, households may be faced with long delays in installation.

The report warned around 2,000 installers have currently been certified to work with heat pumps, compared with the 30,000 that is estimated to be required to reach the Government’s targets.

The shortage of engineers has been linked to the fact that many of them, who are self employed, have to pay for the necessary training themselves.

These courses can cost over £2,000 in fees, not counting the earnings they lose while they are studying.

In a survey, approximately a third of the engineers said they were “extremely unlikely” to install heat pumps in the future.

The authors of the report urged the Government to issue a “clearer roadmap” to its 2028 goals, adding that currently only 10 percent of its 600,000 a year target is being reached.

According to research by the law firm Shakespeare Martineau, 85 percent of households in the UK currently use gas boilers, with 20 percent saying that they would rather replace a gas boiler with a similar model than buy a heat pump.

One reason for this could be that heat pumps are prohibitively expensive, even with Government subsidies meant to slash costs for buying.

Karen Boswell, of Baxi UK & Ireland, noted that if the Government wanted to reach its heat pump targets and have the technology be widely used among British households, they would need to provide further support to train engineers.

She added: “The Government needs to be an advocate for low carbon sources of energy and recommend to the nation’s homeowners they should make the leap to a heat pump – and explain the financial and non-financial benefits of these appliances.

“To achieve this, we need to address engineers’ concerns and support them with training.”

A report by Nesta issues similar warnings, adding that at least 27,000 engineers will be needed in the next six years.

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Codrina Cretu, senior analyst of sustainable future at Nesta said: “A shortage of trained heat pump engineers could put a spanner in the works of the government’s net zero target.”

“We will need thousands more heat pump engineers trained every year to make real progress in providing low-carbon alternatives to gas boilers and meet increasing demand for qualified installers, but this won’t happen while there is a risk of engineers spending more on training than they will make from it.”

Their report found wages for heat pump engineers were generally lower than for gas boiler installations, and training can cost thousands of pounds.

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