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Vaillant warns of HVAC decarbonisation skills challenge

Special roundtable session held by manufacturer to understand current barriers to greener heat has identified need for sufficient skills programmes for both new and experienced HVAC specialists

Concerns at a lack of training for the installation and management of low carbon technologies has been identified by a major manufacturer as a key challenge to heat decarbonisation after recent industry engagement.

Vaillant said it has a held discussion event focused on trying to understand challenges in future heating provision, with installers and trade bodies invited to share their views.

According to the manufacturer, the roundtable session touched on themes such as renewable energy, as well as the level of training required to ensure the viability of low carbon heat. The issue will be vital to UK attempts to realise a legislative requirement to eliminate or offset national carbon emissions fully by 2050.

With the UK’s housing stock anticipated to grow to 26.9m properties in England alone by 2041, a key theme was whether the insulation of homes should be treated by authorities as a national infrastructure priority to support more efficient heat.

The roundtable considered therefore whether greater regulation and financial incentives can actually help drive industry towards being able to ensure buildings can be compatible with a net zero carbon economy.

Parliament’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee has this month urged government to formally make improving the energy efficiency of UK buildings a national infrastructure priority.

The select committee’s calls to introduce a major support programme focused on insulation and low carbon heat technologies were welcomed by some fuel poverty campaigners as being vital to ensure the UK is able to eliminate carbon emissions within 31 years.

Vaillant said that the session also warned of a need to ensure a sufficient number of HVAC professionals had the skills and experience needed to manage and maintain a range of new systems required to support decarbonised homes. This would also focus on being able to handle new infrastructure.

A need for a clear approach to offering structured training programmes for both new and existing worker was discussed at the session.

Mark Wilkins, training and external affairs head with Vaillant, said the discussions had been intended to look at finding a consensus on the key HVAC priorities for switching to a low carbon industry.

He said, “It is clear that any long-term energy strategy needs a mix of different technologies, including heat pumps and boilers powered by hydrogen and other green gases.”

“With a wide variety of sectors within the UK market, each will potentially require a different approach – with clear policy, regulation and funding essential. Overall, there is a lot that can be done to achieve our clean heating goals. But the event also highlighted an overarching sense of urgency that action needs to be taken now, not years down the line.”

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