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British Gas prepares for heat pump growth

British Gas has become the latest organisation to sign up to the UK’s main F-Gas register REFCOM as it seeks to keep pace with growing demand for heat pump installations.

The energy giant’s social housing subsidiary PH Jones maintains more than 195,000 homes across the UK. It supports 23 social housing providers, has carried out almost half a million service calls and installs more than 11,000 heating systems and 850 renewable projects annually.

A growing number of these installations now involve renewable systems with noticeable growth in heat pumps. It is actively recruiting to increase its team of skilled engineers and grow installation work backed up by ongoing expert service and maintenance.

With the social housing sector moving more quickly towards low and zero carbon targets than other parts of the residential market, British Gas said upskilling the PH Jones workforce was a priority.

“The industry is clearly suffering from an acute skills shortage, and it is crucial that large employers like us step up to address it,” said PH Jones director Matt Isherwood. “As well as bringing new engineers into the sector, we also need to upskill our existing workforce, particularly those already involved in boiler installations and other ‘traditional’ heating projects.

“They will be crucial to delivering high performing heat pump systems in line with the Government’s ambitions, but the technology does require specialist skills. We recognise the importance of making sure everyone working for us is properly trained, accredited, and able to comply with legislation.

Credentials
“That is why we were very keen to become REFCOM members as it is the best way to demonstrate our credentials and support higher standards across the sector,” he added.

The Government has set the industry the challenge of installing 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028 – an almost 10-fold increase on current rates – and the Climate Change Committee believes 19 million will have to be installed to meet the country’s Net Zero carbon emissions target by 2050.

PH Jones already has 11 F-gas qualified engineers and a larger team specialising in its renewables work. The agreement it has signed with REFCOM will allow it to eventually register many more certified operatives in line with its plans to expand its workforce.

Founded in 1963, it now employs around 600 staff. Its social housing and facilities management business was acquired by British Gas in 2011. It received a ROSPA gold medal in 2019 following five successive years of receiving the prestigious health & safety initiative’s gold award.

13 October 2021

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