Meeting European emissions targets is reliant on innovative renewable technologies, particularly ‘renewable heat’ from
heat pumps. Heat pump performance is driven by Carnot efficiency and optimum performance requires the lowest
possible space heating flow temperatures leading to greater sensitivity to poor design, installation and operation.
Does sufficient training and installer capacity exist for this technology? This paper situates the results of heat pump
field trial performance in a socio-technical context, identifying how far installer competence requirements are met
within the current vocational education and training (VET) system and considers possible futures. Few UK installers
have formal heat pump qualifications at National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) level 3 and heat pump VET is
generally through short-course provision where the structure of training is largely unregulated with no strict
adherence to a common syllabus or a detailed training centre specification. Prerequisites for short-course trainees,
specifically the demand for heating system knowledge based on metric design criteria, is limited and proof of
‘experience’ is an accepted alternative to formal educational qualifications. The lack of broader educational content
and deficiencies in engineering knowledge will have profound negative impacts on both the performance and market
acceptance of heat pumps. Possible futures to address this problem are identified.
|Keywords||energy efficiency, heat pump, installer, residential, socio-technical, technology performance, training, skills, vocational education and training (VET)|