British Gas rolls out heat pumps with a boost for future installers

As the industry moves away from the installation of fossil fuels to low carbon installations, British Gas has started work on the fitting of its first air source heat pump (ASHP), which spearheads its plans to install 20,000 heat pumps each year across the UK.

The first British Gas air source heat pump is set to be installed at a home in Woolacombe, North Devon, with electric heating alternatives being rolled out across the southwest before going nationwide later this year. 

In further good news for the industry, British Gas has already trained 200 apprentices with plans to train a total of 3,500 over the next decade to enable the company to meet its targets. A third of the 650 or so recruits taken on so far are female – compared to a previous figure of just eight per cent of the engineering workforce. The ambition is for half of all new recruits to be women. 

Plans to train 3,500 new apprentices 

With typical heat pump installations costing in the region of £10,000 to £20,000, British Gas is seeking to make the change more affordable with a seven-year interest-free credit option in line with payments through the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) to cover installation costs. British Gas intends to be placed on the Boiler Upgrade Scheme once it replaces the RHI fund in April. 

British Gas’ parent company, Centrica, hopes to install 1,000 ASHPs this year, to include social housing, with a planned total of 20,000 installations each year. 

Centrica CEO, Chris O’Shea said British Gas currently sells 100 per cent renewable and nuclear electricity and is planning to replace traditional gas with hydrogen, which he said can be used in much the same way but without the dirty by-products. 

At Cop26 Mr O’Shea explained that the cost of heat pumps would come down as with other green technologies in recent years. 

Smart energy experts lead the future 

British Gas has training centres in Dartford, Hamilton, Thatcham and Leicester. The new generation of installers, called ‘Smart Energy Experts,’ will install and maintain carbon-efficient technologies including electric vehicle charging points, heat pumps and hydrogen boilers. 

Jana Siber, managing director, British Gas said: “There is a big challenge ahead of us to decarbonise UK homes. We’ve made a lot of progress in helping our customers use less energy with smart technology, and our first mass-market heat pump will now help them change the type of energy they use.  

“There will not be a single solution for every home but it’s important we act now to start customers on this journey. Heat pumps are an essential part of decarbonising heat and the momentum around this technology is building.  

“To ensure we can meet the demand that is coming, we’ve committed to training 3,500 apprentices over the next decade, many of whom will develop specialist green skills.”