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A changing landscape- Why becoming a renewable heating engineer makes sense

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Written by Neil Hope, Head of Technical Services at NIBE Energy Systems 

As renewable technologies become more common and are actively promoted by governments across the globe, it is clear that the reign of fossil fuel heating has come to an end. Heat pumps have been recognised by the UK Government as the most viable alternative to fossil fuel boilers within homes, as made evident by the Electrification of Heat demonstration project’s findings that ‘there is no property type or architectural era that is unsuitable for a heat pump’. As a consequence, their nationwide deployment has been a focus of the Government’s recent strategies and consultations. Last year, an official target of 600,000 heat pump installations every year by 2028 was revealed as one of the Government’s key measures for tackling heat decarbonisation. Likewise, gas boilers will be banned from new housing in 2025, and households will no longer be able to buy gas boilers from 2035.

It is inevitable, therefore, that installers will have to adapt to this changing, and highly regulated, landscape, and shift their attention towards low carbon systems. This can feel like an overwhelming prospect for those who have been installing fossil fuel systems for thirty or forty years. Even those of us with ten or twenty years of experience can find the transition tricky, as few other markets have seen such a transformation within the last couple of decades. Yet, the route to becoming a certified renewable heating installer is no longer the complicated maze that it once was - the renewable heat landscape, in terms of both training and technology, has become more accessible than ever.

I have seen this transformation towards an accessible renewable heat market throughout my career. The beginning of my working life focused on the fossil fuel heating market, where I served my apprenticeship with a local gas boiler installation company, worked for a leading boiler manufacturer and independently as a gas boiler installer. This was the clearest route to follow at the time, and certainly the most financially viable one. It wasn’t until just over a decade ago that I encountered heat pumps properly as part of the NIBE team and worked on their specification. Heat pumps, in comparison to fossil fuel boilers, are more sensitive to their design, which upon first impression makes it slightly more difficult to master their installation. Yet, I have witnessed the products undergo physical changes to make them easier to install, as accessibility becomes a key factor of consideration. Leading manufacturers, NIBE included, have come to prioritise the installer experience, as they recognise that having a large pool of skilled and passionate installers is the only way to achieve the Government’s deployment targets.

Indeed, the provision of training has also become a key focus for manufacturers compared to a decade ago. There wasn’t a clear pathway before for installers to make the green transition – now, standardised training is emerging with organisations like the Heat Pump Association and the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineers, helping to drive consistency throughout the industry.

If a fossil fuel heating installer came to me and asked for advice on how to shift towards the low carbon market, I would say the following

  • Do research on reputable manufacturers.
  • Find out about the training courses they offer and get expert advice from their technical teams and trainers.
  • Get signed up and complete the right course for you. Pick a course without a burdensome price tag that leads to a recognised qualification or certification, like the newly created Heat Pump Association training course, which is a recognised qualification demonstrating competency for MCS certification.
  • Start to talk to your customers about the various green options available to them – you’ll be amazed by changing attitudes and high levels of interest!

You can receive quality training and support through our partnership scheme, NIBE Pro. It is a streamlined, personalised route for plumbing and heating installers to become an MCS Certified heat pump installer, giving you an industry recognised mark of quality. You also don’t have to worry about training costs, as these are fully redeemable through the NIBE Pro cashback voucher scheme.


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