Adrian Conington runs TerraFirma Energy Limited in Newbury. He says he was drawn to heat pumps after noting their increasing popularity in Grand Designs. He believes that the move to renewables is ‘definitely going to happen’ and that there is a ‘significant demand in the market’ with not enough skills around to meet it.
Adrian has installed ground source heat pumps (GSHP) for end users, small developers and major contractors. With one privately funded 3-plot where the developer needed to reach Level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes (CoSH), a GSHP using vertical boreholes for ground collectors met considerations for space restriction, budget capability and an even heat delivery throughout the year. ‘I’ve tended to concentrate on GSHP partly from a simple business perspective as there are fewer competitors in this market,’ Adrian says.
Adrian attended Nu-Heat’s heat pump course to see if it would meet his requirements for training his sales staff. His ethos is that all his employees need to have an in-depth knowledge of the products his company installs, and feels that such training gives staff a greater sense of worth, ensures continuing professional development and a foundation from which they can grow in their careers. Adrian is also keen to demonstrate to the MCS accreditation body that he has total commitment to the scheme. Of the course at Nu-Heat, Adrian commented that it was ‘a good environment, pitched at the right level and well paced’.
Rob Cole works as a plumbing and heating engineer for Faulkners in Reading. Faulkners works mainly on social housing and council contracts and needs MCS approval in order to provide a service that gives customers access to payments through the proposed Renewable Heat Incentive scheme.
Robs says that Faulkners has mainly been receiving enquiries about air source heat pumps (ASHP) working with radiators in social housing retrofit situations, although interest is increasing in ASHP integrated with UFH and solar in new-build. A local builder that Faulkners works with is currently putting a GSHP into his own property with the long-term objective of installing GSHP systems in future developments. In Rob’s opinion, there is definitely a change occurring in the industry as more and more people take the renewables route. He is often asked by members of the public what he knows about ‘grants and schemes’. Rob describes the courses as giving in-depth information about ‘why and how things happen – the workings of a product.’
Most of the trainees that pass through the Training Centre are from the commercial sector, but the need for renewables training is getting wider all the time.
Dean Haines is Bristol City Council’s Heating Advisor for New Technology. The Council is beginning to use renewable technology in social housing and is currently seeking MCS accreditation. When it transpired that there was a requirement to attend a heat pump course, six plumbing and heating engineers arrived at Nu-Heat’s training centre.
Dean’s team has started retrofitting air source heat pumps to integrate with radiators and is also considering using ASHP with underfloor heating in new builds in the future. ‘For properties currently struggling with old storage heating systems and where gas isn’t available, ASHP is the ideal solution,’ says Dean. Tenants are very pleased with the result so far, especially as the system worked extremely well during the sub-zero temperatures of January this year.
Dean says that the Council has really moved forward in its commitment to energy efficiency. ‘The budget for renewable systems has risen by 500% since last year, and my team of installers is set to expand over the coming year,’ he comments. Dean was very impressed with the presentation and discussion on day one; ‘The session was relaxed and the trainers were happy to go ‘off script’ to discuss any queries, no matter how basic,’ says Dean.
For Nu-Heat’s Training Centre staff, life is never dull. Training Centre Administrator Milly Harding says; ‘People always ask if the job is repetitive as we’re teaching the same courses every week, but the variety of people that attend makes every day different.’
The Training Centre continues to respond to developments in the industry and requests from trainees by introducing new courses, such as the upcoming NICEIC photovoltaic (PV) course.