There is a significant risk that the government will not meet its heat pump installation targets due to a lack of qualified tradespeople, MPs have warned.
The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) says the UK’s net-zero carbon target for all homes by 2050 is unlikely to be achieved without the introduction of major changes, such as recruitment incentives for heat pump installers.
The government pledged in its Ten Point Plan in November to install 600,000 heat pumps in homes per year by 2028, but the EAC says it first needs to ensure there are enough certified heat pump installers to meet expected demand.
In the committee’s Energy Efficiency of Existing Homes report, the EAC called on the government to provide a training and retraining programme for installers as part of its forthcoming Heat and Buildings Strategy, due for publication in May.
“The strategy must address the much-needed increase in certified heat pump installers to meet expected demand including through recruitment incentives, with support for apprenticeships and reskilling,” the authors said.
The report also criticised the lack of accredited tradespeople available on the Green Homes Grant, and said “there is a significant risk that the government will not meet its heat pump installation targets due to a lack of qualified tradespeople”.
Current Targets Won't Meet Net Zero
The EAC has also warned that decarbonising UK homes by 2050 will cost £342bn - significantly above the government's estimates of between £35 to £65bn. Moreover, it says that based on current targets, there could be an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050, but the government is not on track to meet this.
EAC chairman Philip Dunne MP, said: "Realism needs to be injected into the government. A much better understanding of cost, pace, scale and feasibility of skills development is desperately needed for net-zero Britain."
To ensure the UK delivers on this target, it has made a series of recommendations. These include:
Extend the Green Homes Grant
Extending the Green Homes Grant is one of many financial incentives required to help improve the energy efficiency of our homes, the EAC says. Earlier this year, the government cut funding for the grant from March 2021, and reports have circulated the troubled scheme could yet be scrapped in April.
The EAC also criticised the government for the delivery of the Green Homes Grant, and says it has “so far signally failed to deliver its targets”.
Adopt a National Retrofit Strategy
The EAC wants a national retrofit strategy to be included within the Heat and Buildings Strategy, which would be developed with colleges and education providers to provide builders and installers with the skills they need to help make more homes low-carbon.
The government alluded to the introduction of such a strategy in its Energy White Paper in November, but has not revealed any additional information since.
Introduce Building Renovation Passports
Building renovation passports - which would provide a step-by-step renovation roadmap for homes - should be introduced to eventually replace Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs), the EAC argues.
It says that building renovation passports have the potential to provide more accurate data on energy usage, and recommends the government develop an approved standardised methodology and data framework for the passports.
"This will give confidence to businesses that they can invest in upskilling and green jobs," said Dunne.
"This must be properly reflected in the system that assesses energy efficiency: EPCs are outdated and should be replaced with building renovation passports, which set a clear pathway to decarbonise homes."
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