With the increased media focus on gas prices, the environmental impact of fossil fuels, advances in hydrogen production, and the growth of the renewables industry, it is easy to believe that the use of natural gas has had its day and, in turn, as has gas engineering.
The supply of natural gas is indeed getting scarcer by the year. It’s also indisputable that the use of fossil fuels is having a significant negative impact on our planet. As a result, the cost of gas will continue to rise.
In October 2021, 15 million households saw their energy bills increase by 12%. (Source: BBC) And now, with the increase in the price cap from January 1st, 2023, the average household will see their energy bills rise to an average of £4279. (Source: British Gas)
So, can gas engineering still be a viable career?
Is This The End Of Gas Heating?
Even given the factors above, natural gas will continue to be a significant fuel source in domestic properties for many years.
The media portrayal of gas decline usage suggests that by the late 2020s, gas will be all but burnt out. This rumour isn’t true.
Air and ground source heat pumps are by far the most talked-about alternative to gas-powered central heating, and with good reason, they are greener and safer to use than natural gas. But over 23 million homes in the UK are still heated by gas boilers. In 2020 alone, 1.7 million gas boilers were installed in the UK, and UK domestic boiler sales increased by over 40% between 2020-21 (Source: USwitch)
These figures prove that gas boilers are still incredibly popular and will be for years.
With the best intentions in the world, even if the government achieves their target of 600,000 heat pump installations each year, that’s only one-third of all heat sources fitted annually. Subsequently, engineers will be needed to install over 1 million new gas-fired heating appliances a year.
Gas Boilers Banned
The ban on gas appliances in new builds will come into force in 2025, and the UK will ban the sale of new gas boilers in 2035.
Suppose we say that with the investment in new technology and the decline in gas usage, the sale of gas boilers will drop to half a million a year by 2035.
That will still lead to 6.5 million boilers being installed until the ban. In this case, 15 million boilers will need servicing each year.
As good as heat pumps are (and they are good), they will not suit every situation. But for those they do, someone needs to fit them. And gas-trained heating engineers are best equipped to do just that.
When you look at the rest of Europe, the UK lags far behind in heat pump installations. However, as this changes, gas and heating engineers must decommission and replace old appliances.
What About Hydrogen?
The best calculations are that the UK could be entirely hydrogen ready by 2050.
Who will convert the millions of appliances to run on this new gas if hydrogen replaces natural gas? Gas engineers, of course. Existing engineers will need to upskill to upgrade or replace appliances and upgrade the supply network to some 20 million homes.
So while gas engineering isn’t going anywhere, engineers will need to adapt, embrace new technology, and be a little savvier about system designs – but they will still be in demand for a long time.
A Career In Gas Engineering
If you’re considering a career as a gas & heating engineer, look no further. You can train to become a gas engineer through our domestic gas training course and future-proof your career with our heat pump courses.
Speak directly to a course advisor today on 0800 802 1306.