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COP26: The Role Of Installers In Meeting Net Zero Emissions Targets

A blog for the SEA from NAPIT.

The 2050 Target Amendment to the 2008 Climate Change Act in 2016, set out the UK’s commitment to a 100% reduction in emissions by 2050.

Despite a record decrease in 2020 emissions of 13% from 2019, a sustained reduction in emissions will require strong Government leadership, long-term policy, and the support of the industry. Meeting these targets will be a challenging process for all involved, and whilst NAPIT welcomes the UK’s net zero emissions targets, we call for consideration to be given to the role of installers in meeting these targets.

 

As a member of the Sustainable Energy Association, what commitments would you like to see from the UK government ahead of the summit?

We are eagerly awaiting the publication of the Heat and Buildings Strategy. Currently delayed and expected to be published in Autumn 2021, it is hoped that the strategy will provide some much-needed clarification on the roadmap for tackling emissions from homes and set out how we will reach the all-important net zero goal by 2050.

NAPIT hopes the strategy will outline clear steps to increase the number of heat pump installations, as currently, the UK is installing at 6% of the level needed based on the Government target to install 600,000 per year by 2028. This must include a commitment to training installers, as thousands more qualified and competent heat pump installers will be needed to meet the target.

Additionally, the Strategy is expected to offer details about the Clean Heat Grant Scheme which will replace the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive when it ends in March 2022. These details are needed urgently to provide market certainty and to prevent a hiatus from occurring in the marketplace.

 

What do you think is the biggest challenge for reducing carbon in the built environment and how could this challenge be overcome?

There are several challenges in the built environment sector that could impact the Government’s carbon reduction targets. Listed below are our top 5 concerns:

  1. The Role of Technology

Hydrogen and heat pumps form key parts of the Government’s plans to reduce carbon, and heat pumps are expected to be the primary heating technology in homes from 2025. It would be wise to consider the role of direct electric heating within the mix of initiatives as the technology has the potential to contribute where the installation of other technologies may be restricted, and has a readily available and fully competent resource. To reach the Government’s target of installing 600,000 heat pumps per year by 2028, there must be a significant increase in the number of qualified and competent heat pump installers. Consideration must be given as to how to incentivise the training and certification of heat pump installers. The graph below provided by the Heat Pump Association illustrates the sheer growth of the number of installers that will be required.

  1. Training and Certification

NAPIT champions the need for competent and qualified installers and provides the essential training and certification needed to verify this. However, there is an increasing issue with cost and complexity in relation to complying with differing certification requirements, when accessing government incentives. An overview of the varying requirements for the multitude of low-carbon schemes can be seen within the appendix of this infographic.

There is a need to simplify the certification requirements to create a strong and competent workforce, that can be relied upon to deliver the installations needed to meet the net zero targets.  Of particular importance, is the need for government to design policies that are administratively simple to encourage more installers to get involved. A digital solution should be introduced that avoids duplication of effort and collates all the data needed to verify the suitability, safety, and compliance of installations to reduce administrative complexity.

  1. Certainty

The Government’s previous attempts to reduce carbon emissions from homes include the Green Deal and the more recent Green Homes Grant Voucher Scheme. Whilst these show efforts to incentivise the installation of carbon saving measures in homes, these schemes have not proved sustainable, closing with little warning and with no replacement resulting in a lack of confidence in the sector from installers and homeowners alike.

The inadequacy of these schemes has additionally led to a confused and disengaged market. Lessons must be learnt from the collapse of these schemes and should be carefully considered when designing future ones such that they provide a long-term vision that industry can commit to.

  1. Incentivising Heat Pumps for the Homeowner

The high cost of installing heat pumps means many homeowners are unable to afford or unwilling to install them. Additionally, research has shown that overall homeowners are resistant to the idea of installing heat pumps due to a lack of awareness about the product and of the benefits of installing one.

Homeowners are often guided by their trusted heating engineer. If government were to actively engage with installers about the benefits of low carbon heating, incentivise installer training and encourage installers to talk to their customers about the choices available, this could result in meaningful change and help create a sustainable market going forward.

  1. A Policy-Led Approach

Whilst it is vital that the correct training and certification is provided by industry, the Government has a critical role to play in providing the necessary policy to support the installation of low carbon methods of heating.

Going forward, government schemes should:

  • Be long-term
  • Be financially attractive for both installers and consumers
  • Support the creation of a qualified and competent installer network
  • Consider the use of Building Regulations to drive sustained change

 

What is your organisation doing either in preparation for the summit and to tackle climate change more generally?

NAPIT were one of the first Certification Bodies to gain UKAS accreditation to run the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) for all technologies back in 2009 and we currently have a large proportion of MCS certified installers registered with us.

Since 2009, we have dedicated significant expertise, time, and resource to support the creation of industry competence standards and documents to support installers as they look to become certified to MCS and PAS 2030 standards. For example, our free to download Quality Management System supports installers wishing to become registered, and our relationship with heat pump manufacturers and training organisations enables us to support installers wishing to enter the industry with their certification needs. As one of the largest Competent Person Schemes (CPS), authorised under the Building Regulations, we have worked to ensure that installers can access overlapping approvals (MCS, PAS2030, CPS, TrustMark) with a minimum of duplication.

NAPIT represents its members on a multitude of industry committees and Government Working groups, promoting the need to consider the role of the installer, and emphasising the need for certainty, longevity, and administrative simplicity in scheme design.

We are committed to being forward-thinking, proactive, and embrace the move to Net Zero, and as part of this strategy, one of our team is partaking in the Net Zero 2050 Future Leaders Programme, which aims to mobilise and raise a generation of business leaders who are committed to driving change to deliver net zero by 2050.

Looking ahead, as an organisation we remain committed to providing the training and certification needs of installers wishing to work in the built environment and support the Government’s emissions targets. We are eagerly awaiting the publication of the Heat and Buildings Strategy and look forward to playing our part in assisting with the delivery of any commitments which come out of the COP26 conference.

Friday, September 17th, 2021