022 HPM 0415

HPM April 2015

Got a story? Ring us on 01732 748041 or e-mail twood@unity-media.com GREENCOMMENT Time to look at the bigger picture Neil Mattock, marketing director at Vokèra, examines how a mixed solution will help people lower energy usage and help the government achieve its carbon targets... In recent years there has a been a ‘flavour of the month’ approach to the choice of renewables used in a project when, what is really needed, is a plan that takes into account the respective performance benefits of all the available technologies and how they can combine in conjunction with a robust legislative framework. The government has tough carbon emission targets to reach - meeting an 80% reduction of carbon dioxide (on 1990 levels) by 2050 and an objective to be on the pathway to a 60% reduction by 2030, by the end of the fourth Carbon Budget (2027). A BALANCED MIX The Heating & Hot Water Industry Council (HHIC) has suggested a balanced mix in technologies is the best way to help the government achieve its goals in its Pathways for Domestic Heat document. Having looked at electric heating or focusing on low carbon gas and hybrid systems as two options, the HHIC concludes that a mix of low carbon gas appliances and electric heat pumps provide a range of solutions for different house types is potentially the best option. The reason this option is favoured is due to its flexibility. When there is so much uncertainty around on the future of low carbon heating in the UK, this approach keeps the options open. It also allows customers to a have a greater choice over the technologies they install and accounts for different housing types, preferences and requirements. We have a substantial gas network infrastructure in the UK. Switching our heating completely over to electric would ignore this obvious asset and place a huge pressure on the current power generation network. We agree with the HHIC. A mixed approach would see significant but sustainable growth in the adoption of electric heat pumps. The use of hybrids and other technologies will effectively limit the investment that would otherwise be required in the electricity distribution network and reduce the grid impact at times of peak demand. A mixed approach will also allow for the renewable sector to grow at a steady speed and give more time for supply chain and installer development. Even this option, the HHIC reasons: “will, along with the other scenarios, require aggressive reduction of thermal demand in existing homes, and significant growth in heat networks both in new-build and existing housing”. With this in mind, it is vital that whichever WWW.HPMMAG.COM To encourage the adoption of renewable solutions, is a powerful piece of legislation needed? option is chosen is accompanied by robust legislation. The introduction of the Green Deal, Renewable Heat Incentive and other green energy legislation has not achieved the impact we all anticipated. What is needed is a powerful piece of law that makes people change their behaviours, reduce energy consumption and encourage the adoption of renewable solutions. For example, we have seen the gas boiler industry change dramatically in the past ten years. The transformation can be pinpointed to one piece of legislation - the updated Building Regulations. In April 2005, this legislation required that when installing a new boiler or replacing an old boiler, installers had to fit, saving special exemptions, a condensing boiler. This single change had a massive effect on the industry with sales of condensing boilers in the UK going from approximately 40% to 90% in just 18 months. This transition was great for the industry and provided homeowners and end users with more efficient technology and renewed confidence in the boiler market. There were concerns that the price of boilers would rocket and damage the industry but, in fact, the reverse was true. With economies of scale and technological developments, market prices have come to reflect the equivalent of the pre-Building Regulations change. SETTING GOALS The pace at which the market changed goes to show what can be achieved with robust legislation in place. It is a lesson this government, and any future government, should heed when it sets goals for green energy policies. For example, the Ecodesign of Energy-related Products and Energy Labelling Directives are mandatory pieces of EU legislation which, from 22 APRIL 2015 HEATING & PLUMBING MONTHLY September this year, will create minimum efficiency standards for heating and hot water systems, by ensuring that manufacturers meet eco-design requirements and energy labelling. They are set to alter the industry again and be part of the solution for cutting carbon emissions and creating more efficient heating systems. HEAVY INSPECTION ROUTINES As well as considering the legislation itself, any government needs to investigate how the process works in practice to make eligibility as simple as possible. Currently, there are strict training requirements and heavy inspection routines, which for many small businesses in our industry is a big barrier to becoming PAS2030 approved and a Green Deal installer. Many smaller companies, who are the backbone of our industry, cannot afford the time or the money to become PAS2030 approved and they are put off by the whole process. Our industry already carries out plenty of training to help engineers understand the changes in technology and the industry. If we can harness this training and create new guidelines and training to help with Green Deal accreditation, or equivalent future legislation, then it would certainly make the whole process easier and encourage participation. The government, the heating industry, installers and consumers are all striving for the same goal - lower carbon emissions, reduced energy bills and improved levels of comfort in the home. We all want the same results. It’s important that we understand the most practical and efficient technologies to reach this objective, and underpin the heating solutions we provide with the legislation that will incentivise the market and homeowners to take the right course. enquiry number 120


HPM April 2015
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