As a renewables system design and supply company, Nu-Heat has received increasing numbers of enquiries following the announcement of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) proposals. The concept of receiving an income from renewable energy sources installed in their property appeals to many homeowners, especially those with an awareness of environmental issues and the need to increase energy efficiency.
However, the continuing challenge is not only the need to ensure that the right systems are installed in properties so they will work efficiently, but also where the trained heating engineers to carry out the work are coming from.
One installer who took action when a customer put him on the spot was John Fowler from Eyemouth, a fishing village in the Scottish Borders. John has been a self-employed plumber for 6 years, attending basic courses and concentrating on simpler jobs like bathroom installation. He then trained on an Oftec scheme and is currently undertaking the Gas Safe equivalent. However, John says he might not complete the gas course as he has – of necessity – found himself training in the installation of renewable and energy efficient products, and this is where he sees his future.
Initially this was solar, when three new-builds he worked on specified solar thermal for domestic hot water. Then, a fourth new-build requested an integrated system to include solar but this time with a ground source heat pump (GSHP) and underfloor heating (UFH). To begin with John turned this down as he had not previously installed either a GSHP or UFH. The customer was persistent and John decided to take the work – but only after training so he could make sure he got the installation right.
Nu-Heat Underfloor & Renewables had already provided the plans for the project and when John discovered that the company had a bespoke training centre, he found himself travelling from the North East to the South West to undertake a series of courses in heat pumps, solar thermal and underfloor heating over a two-week period.
Before attending the training centre, John felt a little anxious about the heat pump technology in particular. Now he has completed the training he has gained the confidence he needs for the installation. With the likelihood of at least two years’ guaranteed work installing energy efficient systems for the same client, John is convinced that his investment in time and money will be worthwhile.
Where John trained reactively due to pressure from a client, another Scot, Ronnie McFarlane recently took courses purely with a view to future business growth. He agrees with John that Scotland is not yet up to speed with the move towards renewable products, and that now is the ideal time to get ahead of the market.
Ronnie is committed to the training of young apprentices and in order to expand the business and develop his apprentice scheme he wants to introduce the installation of renewables to his portfolio. He has spent time researching the market – including available training courses.
Ronnie decided to attend the NICEIC approved solar course at Nu-Heat’s training centre despite the distance as he felt the course offered the combination he was looking for. He gives a brief description of what this particular course entailed; ‘All trainees received learning material issued two weeks prior to the course, and the first day consisted of an interactive PowerPoint presentation that looked in greater depth at this information, and gave rise to a lively discussion. If any questions couldn’t be answered immediately, the trainer found out by contacting the technical team.
The second day was a practical exam day, consisting of a multiple choice paper, a practical assessment workbook and, in the afternoon a practical assessment job sheet, which included hands on filling and flushing of solar thermal hot water system, identifying major components, fault finding and service procedures.
The third and final day was dedicated to Health and Safety and covered Working at Heights, Manual Handling and Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSSH).’
At the end of the course, Ronnie felt that he had made a wise decision in his choice of course.’ The information was put across really well and professionally. There was also an easy atmosphere and I was made to feel very welcome.’
As his apprentices reach their third year, Ronnie aims to introduce them to renewable technology as he believes this will be key to their future in the industry. He is so impressed with the training that he himself is making the trip to Devon again to take the three day heat pump course.
CPS and MCS
Returning to the potential for major market growth with the RHI, it’s important to remember that both installers and equipment must be approved on the Microgeneration Scheme (MCS) in order for the householder to gain eligibility. MCS approval can only be achieved by installers who have successfully completed an approved course and have subsequently registered on a Competent Person Scheme (CPS).
After registration to a CPS, work can be self-certified easily online without Local Authority Building Control inspection. In addition to this, membership of a CPS gives eligibility to apply for an MCS number, enabling quotations for work to be given as both a competent person and an MCS approved installer.
‘Trained installers are crucial to the future success of energy-saving technologies’
Nu-Heat currently has a ‘buy two get one free’ offer available; book both the three-day heat pump and solar courses and receive a two day underfloor heating course free. Contact Milly at Nu-Heat’s Training Centre on 01404 540616 or visit www.nu-heat.co.uk/