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Official Launch of our SEAI Accredited Certificate Course

Official Launch of our SEAI Accredited Certificate Course

February 16th, 2024 marked a significant milestone for Unitherm Heating Systems as they celebrated the official launch of their Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) accredited Certificate in Heat Pump Installation, Commissioning, Maintenance, and Servicing part-time Course.

Crafted in collaboration between Atlantic Technological Universities (ATU) Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering and Unitherm Heating Systems, this part-time program allows participants to engage in 13 immersive days of hands-on training, spread over 13 weeks with sessions held weekly. With a focus on energy-efficient heat pump technologies, this 20-credit program has 4 times the amount of material than traditional heat pump installation courses and is a rallying cry to address the urgent need for skilled labour in the field. It’s a transformative journey that not only equips individuals with vital skills but also champions a sustainable future by leading the charge toward decarbonising heating systems that traditionally rely on fossil fuel boilers.

The programme is run bi-annually and is unique in that a large portion of the course is aimed at maintenance and servicing. Each day consists of 4 hours theory in ATU’s Galway city campus followed by 4 hours immersive practical training in Unitherm's new state of the art training facility in Ballybane. Here the students are instructed on a number of labs by Technical Director Derek Haynes including, installation, commissioning and maintenance of heat pumps and the systems they are connected to.

The first group of 18 graduates commenced the programme in September (2023), and a graduation ceremony was held on the day to recognise their achievement. A second cohort are currently in training and will complete their studies by June. The installers’ portion of the training is aligned to the National Standard Authority of Ireland (NSAI) published National Standard Recommendation for the Design and Installation of Heat Pumps in Homes - S.R. 50-4:2021.  Geographically it’s the only offering in the west and northwest region, and graduates of the programme are recognised as having met SEAI’s entry criteria for registration as a renewable heat pump energy installer.

Unitherm welcomed Hildegarde Naughton (Minister of State) to officially open the Training Academy alongside Oliver Mulryan (Head of Department) and Graham Heaslip (Head of School of Engineering) from Atlantic Technological University (ATU), Brian McIntyre (Programme Manager) from SEAI and Sophie Long (Bita Ireland West Vice Chapter Chair).

Shane Kelly, Director, Unitherm Heating Systems, addressing the attendees at the launch said: “The private sector has a really important role to play in moving the decarbonisation effort forward and this is why this collaborative Heat Pump training programme is so important, as it will help address an immediate skill shortage in our economy.”

Deputy Hildegarde Naughton, said: “This is exactly what we’re looking for at a government level where you have industry and academia working together to make sure the graduates we are producing will have sustainable jobs into the future which will help meet our needs in reducing carbon emissions. I think it is really a testament to the productive co-operation between ATU and Unitherm that we now particularly have this training centre here in Galway, it’s great to see Galway leading the way in this area.

Brian Mcintyre, Programme Manager, SEAI “Congratulations to Unitherm and ATU for bringing together this fantastic course. A lot of work I do is dealing with industry and trying to drive standards to meet their decarbonisation targets. We have 400,000 heat pumps to retrofit by 2030, but importantly that starts with having people on the ground who can install quality installations to meet our targets. Again I just want to congratulate our graduates for today and once you pick up your hoodie and get your gear we have a lot of heat pumps to put in. Thank you.

“A lot of people are aware that the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive [EPBD] requires zero emissions from fossil fuels for all new buildings by 2030, the displacement of fossil fuel boilers in all buildings by 2040, and net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050,” said Dr Oliver Mulryan, head of Dept of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, ATU Galway. “Under the Government’s Climate Action Plan, by 2030 the Government has set ambitious targets to retrofit over 400,000 with the technology. I have no doubt that this collaborative partnership will be mutually beneficial as renewable technologies evolve and their adoptions grow. We congratulate all the graduates and would like to take the opportunity to specifically thank colleagues John Scahill, Jimmy Fahy, and all in the Digital Academy for the Sustainable Built Environment for their willingness to co-fund this programme'.

Some graduates’ shared their thoughts on their experience with this course

Laurence Walsh, Oughterard, Co Galway, says: “The course has given us great insight into the workings, to the wiring, the heating side, the refrigerant side, it has covered it all and I couldn’t really ask for more. I think it will benefit me greatly as there is a huge need for servicemen on the ground and constantly getting phone calls, can you do this, can you do that and it’s great to be able to say yes, I can. It was a huge advantage to be able to work on the units in this course.

Ryan Keane, Belmullet, Co Mayo, says: “I really enjoyed the feasibility studies - from my point of view being an engineer as opposed to a trade background I appreciated the design aspect more and I really enjoyed that aspect.

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