Based at Highbury North Harbour Training Centre in Portsmouth, the new government-funded facility is dedicated to training and upgrading skills in sustainable technologies.
It’s already attracting a lot of attention from businesses, tradespeople and suppliers across the region, who attended the launch event.
City of Portsmouth College Interim Principal & CEO Graham Morley said: “Climate change, government decarbonisation targets and recent global events have heightened concerns about our reliance on imported fossil fuels.
“Gas and oil heating systems will need to be replaced by heat pumps, and technologies to allow the generation and storage of energy at home will need to become commonplace, especially with the growth in ownership of electric vehicles.
“An estimated 29 million homes will be affected in the UK alone, in addition to commercial properties. But the greatest challenge is the availability of skilled people and that’s why our new net zero training hub is so critical to both local industry and our community as a whole.”
Working with leading manufacturers, training at the hub will cover four skill pathways designed around retrofitting residential properties:
• fabric including insulation and ventilation
• heat including heat pumps and batteries
• power including solar PV and battery storage
• electric vehicles, including maintenance and EV charger installation.
Alan Wilson, Director for NetZero Training, said: “The launch of this training hub marks a very important and exciting opportunity to make a real difference within our local community.
“There are amazing technologies available out there that can reduce carbon, but one of the biggest challenges we’ve got is having the skillsets needed to install that kit correctly. We need close to a million newly skilled individuals.
“With this new training hub, we are one step closer to bridging this skills gap.”
Portsmouth City Council has pledged to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030. Their Head of Energy Services Andrew Waggott said: "It's great to see a hub dedicated to zero-carbon skills training in Portsmouth.
“The facility looks great, and I can't wait to see all of the technology up and running in the coming weeks.
“In order to achieve net zero, we will need to significantly improve and skill up the supply chain in the region and the wider UK. This facility will help Portsmouth to produce the highly-skilled workforce required to meet to the scale of the challenge."
Key suppliers and construction businesses that attended the event included Vaillant, Mountjoy, Sunamp, Powervault, Hypervolt and RWC (Retrofit underfloor heating specialists).
Simon Ingram, Managing Director for Mountjoy, said: “The event highlighted the scale of the challenge we’ve got ahead of us. It’s been really good to have a session to underline some of the things we need to be focusing on, now and in the future.
“It’s an exciting initiative and I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops over the course of the next few years. There are definitely some potential partnerships and collaborations in terms of upskilling and training of staff.”