Talking point

Liz MacFarlane
Liz MacFarlane, reveals why heat pumps are the love of her life . .

My life over the last two years has been taken over by Zenex and solar PV but heat pumps are my real passion. Heat pumps were my reason for entering the sector almost  five years ago when we established Q-Gen, in preparation for the Renewable Heat Incentive, which was supposedly just around the corner.

I still get a much greater satisfaction from a single domestic heat pump installation than any other aspect of my role. Of all the companies in our group, Q-Gen gets the most unprompted gushing positive feedback. I’m lucky to have a team of experienced and knowledgeable staff who would rather walk away from an install if the property is not suitable.  In fact, we probably turn away more sales than we take. You might ask how we’ve survived. If turning work away seems like nonsense to you then you obviously haven’t experienced an inappropriately installed heat pump. There is nothing more costly or time-consuming.

And it’s for that reason that we at Q-Gen have mixed opinions about the latest delay in the RHI. Yes, the advent of the world’s first ever incentive for renewable heat will eventually open up our door to many more opportunities, but it will also see the arrival of many newcomers to the market who underestimate the complexities of heat pumps or for that matter, biomass. The industry needs to be very careful of poor installations. We do not want a repeat of the Energy Saving Trust’s earlier study which examined historical heat pump installations, many of them DIY jobs, and cast a shadow over the piece of technical wizardry that is the heat pump. 

Installing a family’s sole source of heat is a very different responsibility to installing solar PV and it’s for this reason that, dare I say it, I welcome the government’s commitment to earmarking £250,000 towards the training of heating installers and to the funding of 100 green apprenticeships for young people.  Yes, this funding commitment comes at a price – a further delay in the RHI.  I’ve yet to compose the email to explain this to our existing Q-Gen customers. I can’t quite find the words to tell them again. However, I am pretty confident that now they’ve experienced the technology at its best, ultimately the RHI will just be the icing on the cake.