Government policy: Renewable heat, carbon and all that …

Our quarterly rant: Government policy, renewable heat, carbon and all that…

Future generations won’t thank us for the current lack of technical understanding within our senior political ranks. It was, to say the least, a little disappointing that no party in the snap-election bothered to mention renewables policy. At the same time, the climate-change denying dinosaur Trump promotes the use of coal and oil in the face of accelerating increase of global temperature and atmospheric CO2.

Despite all of this, we can report that GSHP, renewables and water resource works are all busy. We believe there have been so many false starts, U-turns and instances of good old-fashioned government mess-ups over the last seven years with regard to the RHI and renewables policy that people and investors have decided that we may as well just get on with it! In a similar fashion, it is clear that the world will get on with implementing the Paris climate accord despite the USA’s brainless stance.

As regards the RHI; we have a degree of continuity. Despite some tabled amendments to RHI policy (delayed by the election and summer recess), Carbon Zero Consulting are confident the RHI will remain open to applications until March 31st 2021. Work is now in progress at the department of BEIS to develop strategies for the ‘post-RHI’ environment. This is likely to take the form of planning requirements for renewable energy provision – rather than payment of tariffs.

UK renewable energy has managed to get column inches this summer with the significant contribution of solar and wind power to the UK power mix – at times providing up to 50% of our energy on a sunny/windy day. Just a few years ago, the ‘carbon intensity’ of grid electricity was in excess of 500g of CO2 (this is the measure of how ‘dirty’ or how much CO2 is pumped into the atmosphere for every unit of power we all consume). This figure now averages less than 300g with some instances, of less than 100g.

This is real progress – based on investments made some years ago. We need to keep our focus on the importance of renewables in the face of huge cost increases of nuclear power. The latter is of huge importance to our future zero-carbon power mix, but we are ‘over a barrel’ due to shameful policy to allow the Chinese and French to name their nuclear power price and take control of our future energy security.

Despite the many problems and shortcomings of our government’s approach, the significant reduction of CO2 emissions means the use of heat pumps for heating and cooling has never been more attractive as they become an increasingly low-carbon technology.

Inaugural Roadshow open to all launches in Rutland

Ground Source Heat Pump Association

The Ground Source Heat Pump Association (GSHPA) has chosen the County of Rutland to launch its inaugural event on Wednesday 10th May at The Rural Business Community in Seaton, Oakham to kick off its roadshow designed to educate, promote and raise awareness of Ground Source Heat Pumps. This event, which is chaired by John Findlay of Rutland based Carbon Zero Consulting Ltd and Chairman of the GSHPA will be the first in a series of regional roadshows to encourage the uptake of Ground Source Heat Pumps and to provide a networking forum for all existing installers.

The event, which takes place from 2pm at The Rural Business Community in Seaton, Oakham (LE15 9HT) is free and open to all local installers, plumbers, heating engineers, architects, building developers and building related contractors, or indeed anyone interested in renewable energy, wishing to gain valuable information from a group of experts in their field. To secure a place, please register your attendance by emailing jen.billings@gshp.org.uk. There will be an opportunity to ask technical questions to the impressive line-up of speakers, who will be taking part in a Q & A panel discussion. The speakers include;

• John Findlay of Rutland based Carbon Zero Consulting Ltd, a Chartered Engineer with over 35 years of international engineering project management and geosciences experience. He has worked with blue chip companies around the world to deliver all aspects of installation from design to end user. As well as Chairman of the GSHPA, John is also a technical advisor to OFGEM and provided input to the Environment Agency Good Practice Guidelines, the BGS open loop screening tool and the CIBSE code of practice for WSHPs.

• Chris Davidson, who is only one of a few certified GeoExchange Designers operating in the UK and has overseen over 200MW of system installations from individual houses to multi-award winning projects such as One New Change in London. Chris recently founded GeniusEnergyLab, which brings a fresh approach to low carbon system design and consultation to the UK. He also Chairs the Policy Development Team at the GHSPA.

• Kevin Cox, Contracts Manager of J. Tomlinson Ltd who has considerable experience in installing GSHPs in a number of Housing Association developments.

• Alex Driver, Managing Director of Orangehouse Renewables, Stamford are local renewable energy installation specialists.

The event would be of interest to a Local Authority or nearby Housing Associations needing to explore all the options in providing heating and potentially cooling in developments, where the GSHPA can offer independent advice and guidance on the most suitable course of action.

The location of the event itself, The Rural Business Community in Seaton, is heated by a Ground Source Heat Pump so there will be an opportunity to see this in action.

The GSHPA would be delighted to welcome you should you wish to find out more information about anything Ground Source Heat related. All you need to do is register your attendance by emailing Jen Billings at jen.billings@gshp.org.uk or phone 07576 550877.

Ends

For Further Media Information, please contact:
Charlotte Hassenstein – Charlotte@carbonzeroco.com or 07770 444 051
Notes to Editors:
GSHPA has over 100 members and our principal aim is to encourage the growth and development of the ground source heat pump industry in the United Kingdom by:
 Promoting the efficient and sustainable use of ground source heat pumps
 Raising awareness of the benefits of ground source heat pumps
 Developing ground source installation Standards
 Encouraging high standards of training for the industry
 Providing a forum for information interchange
 Liaising with related organisations to benefit the ground source industry
 Lobbying for Ground Source Energy industry in matters of local, national and international interest to members

For further information visit our website at www.gshp.org.uk or email info@gshp.org.uk

No better time to consider renewable heat!

Our quarterly rant: Despite everything, there has never been a better time to install a Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP) of the provision of renewable heat.

The UK does not have targets for the increased provision of renewable heat; rather a requirement to lower carbon emissions across the board. The UK’s fifth carbon budget, due for parliamentary approval this year, recommends a 57% reduction in UK emissions from 2028-2032 on 1990 levels.

The committee for climate change (CCC) recently commented that ‘Heating and hot water for UK buildings make up around 40% of our energy consumption and 20% of our greenhouse gas emissions. It will be necessary to largely eliminate these emissions by around 2050 to meet the targets in the Climate Change Act and to maintain the UK contribution to the Paris Agreement. Progress to date has stalled. The Government needs a credible new strategy and a much stronger policy framework for buildings decarbonisation’.

Progress has indeed stalled since the Brexit referendum, cabinet reshuffle, scrapping of DECC and absorption of all things carbon/renewable into the catchily named new department of ‘Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’ (DBEIS). It is likely that we will be told a little more about the fate of the RHI and renewable heat in early December. We await with great interest what BEIS have taken 6 months to mull-over!.

The UK’s long term aim for the provision of heating for domestic and commercial premises is to utilise low carbon (and ultimately zero carbon) electricity to provide renewable heat via heat pumps. Great strides have already been taken to reduce the ‘carbon intensity’ of mains electricity. Coal, the worst possible option for emissions of CO2, has rapidly become a minor contributor to our mix of power sources with gas, nuclear and renewables providing the bulk.

Just 3 years ago, the carbon intensity of grid electricity was often in excess of 500g of CO2 for every kilowatt-hour (500gCO2/kWh). Now, with increased contribution from renewables and gas, the average has fallen to 300gCO2 or less.  This will continue to fall as more renewables are brought on line, and eventually more nuclear – although I fear Hinckley and other nuclear projects have further hurdles to jump before they power-up your heat pump!

The major ‘fuel’ source for a GSHP is, of course, the ground. A well-designed and maintained borehole or trenched ground array will provide renewable heat for 100 years or more – provided nobody digs it up! As such a ground array acts as a very long term capital asset for the system owner. With the significant reduction of carbon emissions from electricity production, there has never been a better time to install heat pumps.

There is ongoing technical demand and client desire to utilise GSHP systems, but in a government incentivised market, there is an urgent and absolute requirement for clarity and certainty from DBEIS. To read more from Carbon Zero Consulting Ltd, visit our news section. 

Hottest April on record globally

Global temperature records show that April was the hottest on record – this follows March breaking the same record. Furthermore, it is the seventh month in a row to break global temperature records, this all but guarantees that 2016 will be the hottest year on record.

April’s temperature smashed the previous record by 0.24°C and was 0.87°C above the average baseline. Scientists are now becoming worried that it may be impossible to meet the 1.5°C temperature cap agreed at the Paris summit with doubt even being raised on a 2°C cap. This worrying trend of smashing temperature records shows the need for immediate action to reduce our carbon emissions.

UK national grid uses no coal for first time in over 100 years

The UK’s national grid has been producing electricity without any assistance from coal fired power plants for the first time since 1882. This historic event occurred late Monday 10th May and spanned into the early hours of Tuesday morning. This was again repeated over the weekend.

The government has stated its plans to phase out coal power by 2025 as it is has a significantly higher ‘carbon intensity’ compared to gas (and of course energy from renewables and nuclear has zero carbon intensity). The reduced reliance on coal is excellent news for heat pump owners as reduced grid carbon intensity will see the carbon efficiency of heat pumps improve even further.

UK Grid Carbon Intensity on 14/05/2016

UK’s Solar Power Generation

The UK’s solar panels generated more electricity than coal for the first time. On Saturday 9 April, solar generated 29 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity, 4% of the total power used that day and more than the 21GWh output from coal (3% of demand). This pattern was repeated on Sunday, with solar (6%) outpacing coal (3%). In reality, the coal consumption was unusually low – but this does demonstrate some of the major changes and improvements being made to the UK’s power supply.

Feasibility assessment of a large water-source heat pump for Nottinghamshire County Council

Carbon Zero Consulting completed the Stage 1 feasibility and options assessment for a potential renewable heating system to replace gas boilers at Nottingham County Hall on the river Trent.

An assessment of river flow and temperature confirms the Trent is certainly capable of providing sufficient water for an open-loop water source heat pump (WSHP) to replace the majority of heat currently provided by gas boilers.

Our detailed report on the viability of this system covered initial aspects of the existing heating and heat distribution system, water intake and discharge works in the river and regulatory issues.

Our findings were presented and well received by Councillors and the engineering team. We have now been asked to make proposals for the 2 Stage feasibility assessment.

UK Renewable Power Generation and Grid Carbon Intensity

Since 2nd June 2015 we have been monitoring the contribution of renewable power generation and carbon intensity of the UK National Grid. A ‘spot’ reading is taken at midday each day.

The addition of wind, solar and hydro-power to existing power generation (gas, coal and nuclear) is starting to make real inroads into the average carbon intensity of the national grid (the amount of CO2 emitted for each unit of electricity generated).

Coal power stations are to be phased out of the UK by 2023 meaning that it is likely that more gas power stations will have to be constructed (new nuclear power installations will take a minimum of 10 years to come on line). The current UK government has put a stop to further onshore wind installations, but there are likely to be more constructed offshore. Likewise, the rate of installation of solar PV, ground source and biomass systems will slow radically with the planned major reduction of tariff payments.

Wind, solar, hydro and nuclear power do not emit CO2 to the atmosphere, while coal and gas emit CO2 with coal being significantly worse than gas.

Graph of UK Grid Carbon Intensity (Nov 4)

As stated in the last article the Carbon Trust states that in all calculations 500 gCO2/kWh is to be used for computation of carbon emissions for heat pumps. However, the value found over the past 4 months is significantly lower than that with an average closer to 385 gCO2/kWh. The result of this is that Ground Source Heats Pumps provide significantly greater environmental benefit than the data published by the Carbon Trust would suggest.

UK Power Generation Grid Carbon Intensity

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The UK is committed to phasing out power generation by coal (and much later gas) and to increase the contribution from nuclear power and renewable technologies (wind, solar, hydroelectric and tidal). The goal is for power generation to become ‘zero carbon’ by 2050 when all power will be generated by renewable and nuclear means.

Since 2nd June 2015 we have recorded (once per day) renewable power production and the ‘carbon intensity’ of the UK National Grid. The graph shows the percentage of total power generation being met by renewable energy (wind plus hydroelectric) and the resulting carbon intensity of energy produced.

It can quickly be seen how renewable energy generation impacts directly and significantly on the Nation’s Grid carbon intensity.

UK Grid Carbon Intensity

We do not include contribution from nuclear power in the ‘Percentage Renewables’, but nuclear power is also a zero-carbon power generator. Currently, nuclear power provides about 20% of total power produced.

Continued reduction of grid carbon intensity will reduce the UK’s impact on the global rise of CO2 and average temperature. The benefit of lower grid carbon is further enhanced when used to heat our homes and businesses via electrically powered heat pump technologies, such as Ground Source Heating.

Currently, the Carbon Trust states that in all calculations of CO2 emissions from heat pumps, a grid intensity of over 500gCO2/kWh is to be used. However, our findings clearly show the average value is closer to 375gCO2/kWh.

We will continue to plot this data to show the beneficial impact of renewable power implementation.

Busy doing soil surveys!

There has been a bit of a rush on soil thermal conductivity surveys this month. We normally perform 2 or 3 a month, but we’ve done 5 already in July!
Our surveys provide in-situ measurement of soil thermal conductivity at the depth at which a proposed GSHP ground array is to be installed.
We successfully completed domestic scale surveys, a large golf club array near Durham, and another for a new poultry farm in Cheshire.
We are also working with De Montfort University in Leicester on an exciting new piece of research to assess heat storage in soils; we were asked to perform a baseline survey with excavation and measurements down to 2m depth on the 2 hottest days of the year …..a fine welcome to the world of Carbon Zero Consulting for our new recruit, Lawrence Scott!