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Renewable Training Centre Targets Knowledge Gap


Mitsubishi Electric has opened a new Renewable Training Centre at its headquarters in Travellers Lane, Hatfield enabling the company to double the availability of training courses.

The company is also forging on-going links with schools and colleges to fill the knowledge gap surrounding renewable technologies and capture the next generation of plumbing, heating, air conditioning and photovoltaic (PV) installers.

“We intend to increase awareness and understanding of renewable technologies from the classroom to career,” explains Donald Daw, Commercial Director for the company’s Living Environmental Systems Division. “In doing so, we not only plan to help raise standards within the industry but also increase the level of understanding amongst the public.

The new facility more than doubles the amount of floor space available for training and will increase the number of training places to 4,000 per year. The centre allows the company to provide 12 different courses covering air conditioning, domestic heating, commercial heating and control systems.

It also provides display areas for all these technologies, heat recovery ventilation for both commercial and residential buildings and the range of advanced PV systems.

These showrooms contain a full range of live operational products so that course attendees can go beyond the text book to undertake working diagnostics. The company believes this is vital if engineers are to gain a complete picture of the issues surrounding the installation and use of renewable technologies.

Mitsubishi Electric has pioneered high standards in the air conditioning industry since being the first company to tie warranties to log books ten years ago. Now a major part of the heat pump sector, the company is looking for ways to encourage plumbers and heating engineers to obtain Micro Certification Scheme (MCS) accreditation to ensure every installation delivers the very best performance.

“Independent research has demonstrated that heat pumps can offer a viable mass-market alternative to gas and oil heating, if they are installed and commissioned correctly into suitable buildings,” explains Daw.

“However, the year-long trials by the Energy Saving Trust also highlight the need to increase awareness of the possibilities of renewable technology amongst consumers and that is why we are looking beyond the industry and targeting education,” he added.

Around 44 per cent of total UK emissions come from buildings and over 83 per cent of these are generated during the operational life of these buildings. Daw therefore sees the specification, commissioning, installation and maintenance of the technologies we use to heat, cool and power our buildings as crucial in helping the country reach tough emissions targets in the coming years.

Mitsubishi Electric has established links with Cornwall College and South Lanarkshire College in East Kilbride which will see these provide training for the Ecodan® range of air source heat pumps. The company is also in discussions with several other heating and plumbing colleges, with a view to establishing nationally recognised training courses.

“We wanted to extend the traditional notion of training that manufacturers provide and use this facility to go beyond our own product range so that we can encourage students to explore the wider concepts of renewable technology,” explains Daw.

A pilot programme designed to increase awareness of the renewable industry amongst schoolchildren is also being developed with local schools in the Hatfield area to widen understanding of how the technology works. Once up and running, the company will look to expand the programme to other schools around the country, near to its network of offices.

For Donald Daw, this last element is a key part of the company’s long-term strategy. “We sit at the crossroads between carbon-based heating for our built environment and the renewable technology that will help lower monthly bills and cut carbon emissions,” he explains.

“However, the renewable industry will fail to realise the full potential of low carbon technologies unless it looks beyond its traditional boundaries and helps to fill the knowledge gap that exists.”

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