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Anyone that owns a roof and they’ve got the right aspect, they would be very foolish not to put PV on it – it’s a great return on investment

much more consideration to replace things such as oil-fired boilers – they are larger capital projects, whether domestic or commercial. We’re seeing in the consumer press more and more information about the Renewable Heat Incentive, so the message is getting out there.

ECA Today: A growth in demand of renewable technologies means a need for more skilled installers. Is the industry prepared for this, or will there be a skills shortage in the renewables sector? Stuart Mackenzie: There is definitely a skills shortage at the moment. All of our training courses are fully booked. There are various estimates about how many multi-skilled installers are required over the next five years, ranging from 3,000 to 6,000.

ECA Today: You just mentioned Dimplex’s popular training courses for contractors interested in accessing this lucrative market – is this a new development? Stuart Mackenzie: We were one of the first training providers. We started over four years ago and set up our training academy here in Southampton. And then we set up 10 other ones throughout the country. Our belief in doing this was because we knew this education was required.

ECA Today: Why was it important for Dimplex to offer this directly? Stuart Mackenzie: We felt that if we trained the installers there would be some brand loyalty to us going forwards. They would be familiar with our products and would recognise all the support services we can provide as a brand. We’ve tied it all into our Accredited Installers Scheme, which we are developing into more of a two-way street now between the installers and ourselves. There is much more communication, particularly with the smaller installers. We can support them with a range of packages. For example, we have a product called ‘Renewable Energy Finance’, which can then help them finance for PV systems.

ECA Today: The UK government has set an ambitious target to make all new homes zero carbon by 2016 and

all new buildings for 2019 – is this achievable and why must the industry embrace renewables to get there? Stuart Mackenzie: Yes it’s achievable, but unlikely. This is my personal view in the current economic climate. The Code for Sustainable Homes – Levels 4, 5 and 6, which we are talking about here – is impossible to achieve without renewables. Building design and building materials play a part, but without renewable technology, you will not be able to achieve those levels in the Code for Sustainable Homes.

ECA Today: It seems Dimplex practices what it preaches, as your headquarters is now generating zero-carbon electricity with a recent installation of its own solar photovoltaic modules. Tell me more about the installation. Stuart Mackenzie: The roof of our headquarters is not totally south facing – it’s about 25 degrees to the south-west, but we knew we could get a very good yield from it, in terms of producing our own electricity while earning on the Feed-In Tariff at the same time. We are believers – we believe in the technology. It’s a great proposition – anyone that owns a roof and they’ve got the right aspect, they would be very foolish not to put PV on it. It’s a great return on investment.

ECA Today: What are the key features of this newly launched solar PV range? And why is it a smart option for contractors? Stuart Mackenzie: Everything is in the kit when they buy it – from the modules to the inverters to the cabling. It’s also MCS-approved. And although they can buy it all in kit form, they can also buy a customised product from us if they wish, for specialised things, such as dormer windows on roofs. We have also just introduced a new landscape module. If you went to this year’s Ecobuild you’ll know that there were masses of PV suppliers from the Far East exhibiting, but when you asked them ‘Does it have MCS?’ they replied, ‘What is MCS?’

ECA Today: That’s not a good sign. Stuart Mackenzie: When customers asked us on the stand why they should be using our products, we simply told them: ‘We’ll be here next year – where will they be?’ Us having a well-known brand behind the product means that they will be supported. Installers aren’t going to be left without any support, heaven forbid, if problems do develop.

Dimplex has installed solar photovoltaic panels on the roof of its Millbrook House headquarters in Southampton

ECA Today: Dimplex has been manufacturing renewable energy technology long before reducing carbon was a global priority. What key technological developments have occurred throughout the years? Stuart Mackenzie: We bought Siemens’ electric heating business in Germany in 1992; prior to that, Siemens had been building heat pumps for a number of years, but Europe wasn’t embracing this technology apart from Austria and Switzerland. When we acquired the business, we kept investing and developing the technology – as a private business we can take a long-term view on things like this. We believed that, in the course of time, there would be a need for this technology – heat pumps in particular. And as we turned into the new century, it started to happen in Germany and then France and

36 ECA Today May 2011

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