A Westcountry renewables centre has launched a new facility that will enable key trades to tap into a forthcoming green heat cashback initiative.
The £1.5 million EaRTH facility at Bicton College has become a HETAS-approved national training centre, after investing £87,000 in new green technology.
It has acquired three biomass boilers which have been installed for trainees to hone their skills on.
The new facility will enable Bicton EaRTH to equip tradespeople such as plumbers and heating engineers with the skills to become approved advisers and fitters for the new domestic Renewable Heat Incentive.
Four companies will take part in a pilot course being held at Bicton EaRTH next week, with monthly courses being launched in September.
The purpose-built EaRTH centre, opened in 2012, combines demonstration space with practical facilities for technology-specific training. It said the investment in its new biomass centre will be paid off in 14 years, through RHI tariff payments already available to commercial schemes.
A domestic version of the green scheme is due to launch next year. It will offer members of the public tariff payments on heat generated by renewables technology such as biomass boilers and heat pumps, provided they get the work carried out by accredited companies.
Last week, the Department of Energy and Climate Change revealed the payment levels it has set for the forthcoming domestic scheme.
The new courses will be led by local biomass installers Duncan Biggs and Mike Geis, who have close working relationships with the college.
Mr Geis is technical and operations manager with Exmouth-based Energexe, while Mr Biggs is managing director of Complete Biomass SW, also based in Exmouth, which installed the new technology at the college.
Mr Biggs said: "If the sustainable energy industry is to grow in the way that the government states it should, we need many more qualified installers.
"This area of the country, with so many properties off the gas grid and households reliant on high cost fossil fuel energy sources, is in urgent need of viable renewable heating alternatives."
Bicton's HETAS training centre was officially launched yesterday by college principal David Henley and deputy principal Jane Townsend.
They were joined by representatives from HETAS, technology suppliers and installation partners.
Graham Waddell, Head of EaRTH at Bicton College, said: "We are delighted to be in a position to provide high calibre industry training for South West installers wanting to capitalise on the popularity of this increasingly viable choice of renewable heating."
HETAS technical and training manager, Andy Mathews said: "This fantastic new facility has set the benchmark for biomass training across the country."
The three biomass boilers were provided by Taunton-based Dunster Biomass Heating and Teignmouth's Bio Nordic, with flues and chimneys supplied by French company Poujoulat.