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Heat Network Skills Review - call for industry support | ACE Research

7 February 2020

The Committee on Climate Change’s recent Net Zero report details that heat networks currently provide 2% of UK heat demand, yet the ambition is for this to increase to 18%. The growth in the heat networks sector is essential in supporting the UK’s legally binding net-zero targets.  

This ambition is supported by strong Government commitment through the £320 million Heat Network Investment Project (HNIP) and the Heat Network Delivery Unit (HNDU), which supports local authorities and project developers in the early phases of scheme development. The Government’s commitment to low-carbon heating in new homes from 2025 (the Future Homes Standard) creates a further significant opportunity for faster roll-out of low-carbon heat networks. 

There is huge potential in the heat networks sector, with an estimated £16 billion of private capital investment expected within the sector. A strong supply chain will be required; the market is already growing. We need to ensure that the sector has the capability and capacity required to match the projected market growth. Government is working closely with industry to ensure we have the right skills needed to rise to this challenge.   

The objective of the Heat Network Skills Review project is therefore to baseline the skills landscape in the UK heat networks sector; placing the sector on the front foot by setting out practical recommendations to government and industry on how to grow capability and capacity in heat network supply chains; therefore supporting the UK’s transition to net zero.   

IFF Research, ACE Research at the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE) and SWECO UK are therefore delighted to announce that we are taking forward the skills review project for BEIS.  

This fast-paced project, due to be completed in under 3 months, will rely on engagement and support with those in the heat network and skills sectors, along with sectors such as construction (linked to skills audit frameworks), water, nuclear and the rail industry; and sectors that have experienced high growth (such as photovoltaic, electric vehicle and offshore wind sectors). 

How can you support the project?  

This 3-month project involves a number of stages where stakeholder engagement is required.

Literature and data review 

Through desk-based research ACE Research and SWECO will review existing literature (both academic and grey) detailing approaches to delivering skills in: the heat network sector; other sectors such as construction (linked to skills audit frameworks), water, nuclear and the rail industry; sectors that have experienced high growth including the photovoltaic, electric vehicle and offshore wind sectors.   

The team will detail examples of common, good practice whether at a local, regional, national or international scale, the success factors which underpin these examples and their transferability to the UK to develop capability and capacity in the heat networks supply chain.    

We will also be engaging with stakeholders to source relevant data to determine the composition of the UK heat networks workforce. This is likely include professions, employment type, company size, diversity, age, gender, ethnicity.  

If you are able to assist the team in this stage of the project by identifying literature data and stakeholders to engage on this matter, please contact Kelly Greer, ACE Research Director on kelly.greer@theade.co.uk or 020 3031 8740.  

Skills mapping  

IFF Research will lead a skills mapping exercise to focus on pathways through the Heat Networks sector and considering data that shines a spotlight on both supply and demand. The team will identify key occupations in the sector; review skills needs for each occupation; explore qualifications available, including apprenticeships; examine barriers to entry and progression in the sector; and review progression opportunities including further qualifications 

If you have any supporting material or have done any work identifying career pathways, skills needs by occupation, or training provision available that you are happy to share, please contact Nicola Wildash, Senior Research Manager at IFF Research on 020 7250 3035, or via Nicola.Wildash@iffresearch.com.  

Stakeholder engagement: interviews and workshops 

The team will then embark on a stakeholder engagement phase. This includes both stakeholder interviews, to be conducted by IFF Research and 3 stakeholder workshops delivered by ACE Research.  

If you are able to assist the team in this stage of the project by identifying key stakeholders to interview, please contact Nicola Wildash, Senior Research Manager at IFF Research on 020 7250 3035, or via Nicola.Wildash@iffresearch.com. The project team will send out further information to stakeholders on how to participate in this activity in due course. Please note that interviews will be targeted and limited in number; we cannot guarantee that everyone suggested will be interviewed. 

We plan to hold 3 stakeholder engagement workshops in March, ideally in different locations across the UK. If you are able to assist the team in offering a venue one for a workshop, please contact Kelly Greer, ACE Research Director on kelly.greer@theade.co.uk or 020 3031 8740.  

Commercial confidentially 

Do you want to support the project but are concerned with sharing potentially commercially sensitive information? 

Such information will be handled by IFF Research. The team will work with you and your organisation, and the team at BEIS, to ensure that this information is treated in strictest confidence, and that any references in the final report are anonymised and not identifiable as coming from your organisation.    

If you have any questions about the project, please contact the project team:  

IFF Research: Email Nicola Wildash (nicola.wildash@iffresearch.com) or Sam Morris (sam.morris@iffresearch.com), Senior Research Managers, or call 020 7250 3035. 

ACE-R: Kelly Greer, ACE Research Director, kelly.greer@theade.co.uk, 020 3031 8740.  

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