Putting installers front & centre in our green recovery

At the recent Solar & Storage 2020 live conference (2-4 Dec), one point that was consistently raised in the webinars was the critical role installers play in the road to net zero.

Heat pump installer

Whilst past government tariffs and policies have been heavily weighted in favour of specific technologies, there is now a consensus – even by those with vested interests in a particular technology – that a holistic approach is the way to achieve our green goals. Going hand in hand with this is the need for installers to diversify their portfolio, upskill, and broaden their knowledge base of renewable technologies.

As Ian Rippin, CEO of MCS, acknowledged:
“The installer that can handle all technologies and make them work together seems to be the challenge for 2021 and beyond.”

The shift is underway

Indeed, many installers have already taken up the mantle, with Virginia Graham, CEO of Renewable Energy Assurance Ltd (REAL), citing a noticeable shift in the willingness of installers to broaden their skillset and work across multiple technologies:
“We’ve seen a more complex picture arising and certainly the majority of our members now do multiple technologies.”

As the main point of contact with the customer, the installer is also best placed to offer advice and guidance, with MCS research finding that the installer has the most influence on consumers.

The government’s role

It can’t be driven by the installers alone though. STA chief executive, Chris Hewitt, highlighted the need for government to implement changes to the Green Homes Grant, to ensure consumers are getting the best fit for their needs:
“The Green Homes Grant needs to be a technology neutral scheme. There’s always that risk – we did see it in solar, not that many years ago – of subsidy chasing, with the installers incentivised to push one particular technology because there is a grant for it and the consumer is drawn to that. Whereas, what we want is an installer community and advisers out there to be saying ‘let’s look at your house – what’s the best way of greening this?’ Sometimes it will be a heat pump, sometimes insulation, sometimes solar pv and a battery, and, in many cases, it may be a bit of all that. We want that whole house assessment.”

What’s next?

Of course, this doesn’t happen overnight, and many industry professionals were quick to point out the need to implement comprehensive training and support programmes to enable more installers and specifiers to adopt additional technologies and offer informed appraisals for the consumer.

What are your plans for 2021 and beyond? Have you had the opportunity to  diversify and upskill?