Special Report

Industry partners train up the heat pump trailblazers

In the next of a series of articles looking at the trailblazing approach to net zero taking place on Jersey, Griff Thomas, from GTEC, and Tony Tryer, from Jersey’s Highlands College, discuss the first ‘on-island’ heat pump training – a key component of the Carbon Neutral Roadmap.

How an industry collaboration is taking heat pump training where it is needed

“As covered in my previous article, Jersey is ahead of the UK when it comes to reaching net zero, with a commitment to prohibit the installation of new gas and oil boilers from 2026. To support this transition from fossil fuel heating, the island is introducing a Low Carbon Heating Incentive, utilising highly efficient heat pumps where possible.

“To facilitate these plans, Jersey needs suitably trained installers, which is where GTEC has stepped in. Prior to our involvement, installers had to travel to the mainland, complicating and slowing up the process of upskilling. We have helped set up the first ‘on-island’ training at Highlands College, covering heat pumps and associated courses.”

A localised need

Tony Tryer, assistant principal for Planning and Skills at Highlands College, explains how the arrangement with GTEC came about:

“The government in Jersey provided us with targeted funding to help tackle issues around workforce mobility and address the skills gaps in specific areas of growing industry demand. We engaged with industry on-island to ensure that our plans for new course delivery reflected the localised need for renewable technology design and installation.

“The funding we secured enabled us to commission GTEC to provide us with bespoke training and assessment rigs which have been installed at the college. We now have the essential resources required to deliver up-skill training and to embed renewable technologies into our related apprenticeship schemes – a valuable legacy for the college and the whole of Jersey.”

New training provision

“Our cohort is wide ranging,” tony continues. “Highlands College of Further and Higher Education provides learning for 800 school leavers, 900 adults on apprenticeships or part-time courses and 200 higher education students. There’s also provision for 2000 adults on leisure courses and 600 students on professional development programmes.

“In response to our government’s ambitious plans, and in order to ensure industry is appropriately prepared for the increased demands for renewables, we have put in place measures to establish courses in the following subjects – to run in addition to our Level 3 apprenticeship courses in plumbing and electrical engineering.

“We now offer the heat pump installation and the following:

“Building from this base, we plan to add more renewable technology related courses, such as solar thermal and solar photovoltaic to our curriculum.

“We have been delighted with the help Griff has given us in establishing Highlands College as an excellent provider of renewables training and look forward to helping the government meet its targets, both in the short and long-term.”

A game changer

Griff concluded: “This is a great project for GTEC and the start of an on-going relationship with Highlands College.

“Apart from training, we’re also introducing the cohort of installers at the college to a prototype version of Heatly, an app and supporting software designed to make heat pump specification and installation easier for installers, digitising processes like heat loss calculations, while providing a host of other benefits to consumers and the industry at large.

“I am part of the development team behind Heatly. Jersey will provide a really useful testbed for our technology, which we can use to fine tune this potentially game changing ‘tool’.

“More about that in the next article…”

Jersey’s Carbon Neutral Roadmap

In April 2022, Jersey’s Carbon Neutral Roadmap was agreed by its States Assembly. The second largest emissions source on island is from the heating sector which is, therefore, a key focus. The Low Carbon Heating Incentive, which is currently in the pilot phase, offers match funding of up to £5,000 when switching from an oil or gas boiler to a low carbon alternative. Those qualifying as low-income can access £10,000 of funding, without the need to match-fund.

Technologies currently included in the scheme are air source heat pumps, electric flow boilers and electric storage/panel radiators. Applicants may also apply for funding for energy efficiency measures, such as insulation.

Phase 2 of this scheme will launch in Q2 2023.

For more information about GTEC’s range of renewable courses, visit: www.gtec.co.uk