If the energy crisis we are living through has taught us anything, it is that the UK is far too reliant on the global fossil fuels market. According to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, in 2020, 38% of the UK’s gas demand was used for domestic heating – a dependence that is leaving bill payers vulnerable to unpredictable changes. 

While focus is rightly being placed on supporting the nation through the current cost of living crisis, it is important for our future that we also put in place measures that will help Britain avoid similar crises in future, as well as support the UK’s ambitious net-zero targets. As we approach the winter months, it is imperative that political decision makers, businesses, and individuals alike come together to accelerate progress in our collective efforts to decarbonise heat.

One of the keys to achieving this goal lies in investing in low carbon electric alternatives, which has materialised in the government’s announced ambition to install 600,000 heat pumps up and down the country by 2028. This target is vital to establish improved levels of energy efficiency and security in the UK as heat pumps use considerably less energy to run than gas or oil alternatives.

It will require the mobilisation of a whole new supply chain – creating jobs and growing the economy.

For this target to be realised, we need to address the lack of qualified heat pump installers. Currently, there are fewer than 4,000 qualified heat pump installers (according to the latest MCS estimates) in the UK. We have the opportunity to grow the economy and create the workforce needed to carry out these vital improvements.

For this to change, the industry needs to react quickly and upskill workforces in order to help hit the target. 

This is why we have partnered with CB Heating and Daikin to launch a new Training Academy, based in Clacton-on-Sea, to help drive the nationwide upskilling of heat pump installers. The new facility, which follows the investment and partnership agreement made between EDF and CB Heating in May, has the capacity to train up to 4,000 installers a year using Daikin equipment and heat pumps.

This training will involve a range of Daikin and BPEC accredited courses that are both practical and classroom-based, depending on the experience and existing qualifications of the trainee. Qualified trainees will then have the opportunity to work across CB Heating’s Heat Pump Installer Network, while still receiving support from Daikin, EDF, and CB Heating to safely and efficiently install the devices nationwide.

We are encouraging all relevant professionals and businesses to embrace this new challenge, whether it be through our programme or similar schemes. Not only will this produce more qualified installers ready and able to support the UK on its journey to 600,000 heat pumps in the next six years, it will also drive the industry one step closer to protecting households from the instability of global fossil fuel markets.

By supporting more households in a switch away from polluting hydrocarbons to clean electricity through the installation of heat pumps, we can go a long way to helping reduce exposure to international gas volatility. If we are able to change the way we heat our homes, we are significantly less reliant on the unpredictable market that is currently causing so many issues for people across the country.

As Britain’s biggest generator of zero carbon electricity, this is an important wider mission for us at EDF, a mission we see heat pumps as a vital component of. 

2028 is fast approaching and the industry must act to support the necessary 600,000 installations. Not only will this training contribute to our path to net-zero, but it will also benefit individual plumbers and engineers by providing them with extra revenue streams. This is why we are urging as many people as possible to take on the necessary training needed to gain a qualification, joining us on this journey.