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First Cohort of Heat Pump Technicians Graduate

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First Cohort of Heat Pump Technicians Graduate

New “Heat Pump Installation, Commissioning, Maintenance and Servicing Training programme” delivered in Unitherm’s Training Academy Ballybane (Galway)

The first cohort of graduates of the new “Heat Pump Installation, Commissioning, Maintenance and Servicing” programme developed by Atlantic Technological University and Galway-based company Unitherm Heating Systems were presented with their Certificate award at a formal ceremony in Unitherm Heating Systems’ new Training Academy in Glenrock Business Park, Ballybane (Galway) on Friday last, 16 February. Minister for State Hildegarde Naughton formally opened the Training Academy at this event.


The part-time programme was developed by ATU’s Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering and Unitherm Heating Systems. It involves 13 days of onsite, practical, training which is delivered once weekly over 13 weeks. The 20-credit programme was designed to directly address the shortage of skilled labour in energy efficient heat pump technologies. Heat pumps offer an avenue for decarbonising heating systems that traditionally rely on fossil fuel boilers.


The programme is run biannually, and unique as it also covers maintenance and servicing. The first group of 18 graduates commenced the programme in September (2023), graduating last week (16 February). 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.


Dr Oliver Mulryan, Head of Dept of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, ATU Galway, says: “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 Green House Gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. Under the government’s Climate Action Plan (CAP), 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 evolves and their adoptions grows. 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 (DASBE) for their willingness to co fund this programme.”

Shane Kelly, Director, Unitherm Heating Systems, says: “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.”


Professor Graham Heaslip, Head of ATU School of Engineering, says: “This course sees industry and academia come together to address climate action and the transition to a low-carbon economy. The graduates of the programme will contribute to a sustainable, equitable, and green low-carbon economy. The programme is one of several developments that ATU is targeting to ensure that the West of Ireland has the opportunity to become a global leader in sustainable enterprise and green innovation”.

Deputy Hildegarde Naughton, Minister for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy, speaking at the launch, says: “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.”


Four graduates’ testimonials
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.”


Paul Brennan, Cong, Co Mayo, says: “The course was good from a hands-on perspective, it brought people out of the college setting into an actual industrial setting where the units are set up and you could physically get to work on them, real-life units, not just parts and components on a desk or shown on a screen and a lecturer talking through them so from a practical side it was excellent”.

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.”


Sajumon George, Athenry, Co Galway, says: “Because of this course, I am getting interviews from companies who are doing HVAC systems in Ireland. Last week I had an interview and have another one on Tuesday. I think it is because of this certification that I am getting this opportunity.”


Anyone interested in pursuing this certificate please visit the ATU website (Electrical and Mechanical Engineering section of ATU’s Online, Flexible and Professional Development Webpage) as follows:

Here you will find further information on the eligibility criteria, and the portal through which you may apply for a place on the course this September and/or January.

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