Britain is facing a significant engineering skills gap which will hamper progress towards government carbon and European renewable energy targets, the new Combined Heat & Power Association chairman Dominic Bowers says. Standards, regulatory frameworks and greater investment are also needed to bridge the gap, he adds.

A group director for global engineering consultancy Parsons Brinckerhoff, Bowers says: ‘Meeting EU renewable energy targets for 2020 and the government’s forthcoming carbon budget calls for a radical overhaul of the pattern of energy supply in the UK, making greater use of local, decentralised sources of energy supply. This development will see the more widespread use of community heating and cooling networks and the involvement of a wider range of actors in the energy supply market.’

However, he warns: ‘Among the challenges facing the industry over the coming years will be an expansion in capacity and securing the necessary skills and competencies. The UK is a long way behind some of our European neighbours in the development of alternative energy supplies and there is a significant skills gap.’

He concludes: ‘We will need to address this shortfall by developing capacity in the engineering sector, introducing standards and appropriate regulatory frameworks, and investing in our future engineers.’