Consider Variables Before Installing Heat Pumps and District Heating Systems

The appropriate choice and installation of heat pumps and district heating systems will reduce carbon emissions.
Published: Thu 19 Mar 2015

The heat pump is one of many solutions to energy savings. When designed, installed and commissioned correctly, it is capable of creating fewer carbon emissions than the gas boiler system and that, as far as UK and European legislations are concerned, is the key guide and marker. This is according to Jonathan Prescott, Regional Sales Manager, Renewable Heating, Mitsubishi Electric, who spoke recently at Low Carbon Scotland.

Variables will affect choice of heat pump system

Prescott points out that while there are many challenges when it comes to choosing and installing new technology in today’s buildings in the UK, it is important to choose the right technology according to the building and its occupants’ needs. For instance, when it comes to social housing, Scottish authorities have to meet certain areas of legislation so it is a matter of looking at how the solution fits in with their obligations, explains Prescott.

“There are many key variables to consider before installing new technology. Look at what your initial requirement is and what you intend to achieve with it. If you are looking to do a full retrospective installation, you need to look at how you are going to alter heat emitters. The key for us is what you can do with the fabric. For instance, how can glazing be increased and how can a property be insulated. You want the building to be as airtight as possible. Only then can you look at how you use energy. Only then should you bring in the green technology,” explains Prescott.

Variables will also affect how a heat pump system is designed too. For instance, how the pump will be monitored. “It’s all about collating data from the system so it has to be transparent about its efficiency. This feeds back into the reporting side. Going forward into the next five to six years, you will see is a big shift towards collating data and measuring carbon savings.”

District heating needs government support and innovation

Another speaker at Low Carbon Scotland, Benn Watts-Technical Development Director, Energy Services, Cofely UK, believes that district heating has a large role to play in meeting carbon targets. However, he does point out that district heating may not be suitable for all situations. The ideal scenario is when buildings are located in close proximity, proving a higher level of energy density.

Watts points to the Olympic Park District Heating and Cooling Network which has been a success and continues to evolve. The network comprises 18km of distribution pipe work (16km heating and 2km cooling) which provided the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games with efficient low-carbon heating and cooling.

The network is connected to the Olympic Park Energy Centres at Kings Yard and Stratford City. The Energy Centres use gas fired and biomass boilers for tri-generation combined cooling, heating and power (CCHP). A total of 48 heating and 23 cooling sub-stations are located within the Olympic Park venues, buildings, Athletes’ Village and Westfield Stratford City development. The district-wide CCHP system is estimated to be approximately 30% more efficient than conventional heating and cooling systems and offer a significant reduction in carbon emissions. The system is also considered to be more reliable, resilient and offer security of supply with the ability to use a range of fuels such as gas, biomass or other renewables. The network serves the 2.5km2 area of the Olympic Park and Stratford City development. The system has been designed to enable future extension of the network beyond the Olympic Park and Stratford City developments.

Says Watts, “If district heating is to deliver the expected carbon benefits and savings, there has to be innovation and government support.”