Seven times as many accredited installers needed by 2020 according to PwC report

Heat sensitive house picture

The number of installers of renewable heat systems will need to increase seven fold by 2020 if government targets are to be met, a study by PwC has found.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) predicts between 500,000 and 600,000 renewable heat installations will take place by 2020, which PwC said was “realistic”.

However, the PwC report, Turning Up the Heat, said there needed to be a significant upturn in the number of accredited installers from just over 3,000 at the end of 2012 to nearly 22,000 by 2020 to hit DECC’s targets.

The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme was designed to help drive uptake of renewable heat technologies and pays building owners a subsidy for the heat they generate from renewable sources, such as heat pumps or biomass. But its launch into the domestic sector has been delayed twice and uptake on commercial buildings has been slow. However, the report said it was unlikely the RHI would create many jobs, or provide a “vibrant and sustainable industry”, even if DECC’s predicted level of installations was met.

The report said it expected most of the accreditations would be for existing installers of other renewable technologies, rather than new entrants into the industry.

The study also said these targets could be exceeded if the government provided enough certainty to the industry. It said: “There is […] potential to deliver more than the projections. A key element would be avoiding the uncertainty of tariff changes that plagued the feed-in tariff scheme in its initial stages.”

The report also said DECC may need to provide a “more substantial budget” for the scheme to help the industry.

Daniel Guttmann, PwC director and specialist in renewable technologies, said industry confidence was “not high” that the scheme would be successful.

“The qualifications are a key part of the installation and accreditation process, and low rates of take up could have knock-on implications for the rate of installation, competition on pricing and, ultimately, the UK achieving its target,” he said.

A DECC spokesperson said: “We are confident that the RHI will successfully incentivise the uptake of renewable heat technologies.

“DECC is currently finalising the details of the expansion of the non-domestic RHI scheme alongside the response to the tariff review consultation and will confirm the way forward in the autumn.”