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Beama welcomes EST’s heat pump field trial report

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Beama has welcomed the Energy Saving Trust's (EST) public report – ‘Getting warmer: a field trial of heat pumps' – on the interim findings of the UK's first domestic heat pump field trial.

The report aims to inform the heat pump industry about the positive and negative impact of heat pump design, installation, commissioning and end-use.

Kelly Butler, Beama's marketing director (pictured) commented: "During 2009, the installed base of heat pumps doubled with annual sales of around 14,000 units, which points towards a future of rapid market growth. As with all developing markets, field trials can ensure sustainable technology growth and customer satisfaction, which is why heat pump manufacturers and other stakeholders acted responsibly in both funding and technically supporting the trial.

"The interim conclusions are broadly in line with the trial's expected outcomes and confirm what industry professionals were already aware of. For example, we are aware that heat pumps work optimally with low temperature heat distribution systems and are best suited to well insulated dwellings.

"For air and ground source heat pumps, the mid-range trial results show a favourable CO2 performance compared to LPG, and a marked reduction of 30% in CO2 emissions compared with oil heating systems.*"

Butler believes these figures are important, because the initial heat pump push will be largely targeted towards ‘off gas' dwellings where CO2 beneficial options are limited, and the cost of fuel bills tends to be higher.

He continued: "It is well recognised poor heat pump performance can be attributed strongly to poor design and system commissioning. For example, inappropriate sizing to the heat load or system requirements, and inadequate installation/commissioning such as circulation pump setting.

"However, the heat pump industry is addressing these issues through major investment in training and support of the new National Occupational Standards published by Summit Skills earlier this year. Industry is also actively engaged in the successful development of a National Skills Academy, which if correctly implemented, can ensure consistent training standards through a ‘hub and spoke' delivery method – a proactive approach to improve supply chain education in design and installation.

"This year, an estimated 2,000 installers have been trained in heat pump design and installation. By 2020, under the new qualification framework, 8,000 installers will be trained to help install some one million heat pumps."

The majority of field trial sites pre-date the Government's relatively new Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS), which is also supported by the heat pump industry. The scheme certifies product and installer standards and currently has 357 products and 370 installers approved to give confidence of quality standards to customers. Over 200 additional heat pump products are currently in the process of approval.

"Beama believes government and industry investment in MCS will overcome some of the trial's less positive results," said Butler. "For example, MCS requires installers to advise customers of the energy efficiency opportunities in the dwelling to reduce heat requirements – insulation for instance – and to specifically lay out the installation's expected fuel savings.

"The EST report does identify some cases where the installer and customer suffer from poor education on heating controls, and we know well that appropriate use of heating controls will positively affect the efficiency of all heating system types from gas central heating to heat pumps.

"Through our controls association Tacma, we will be developing a controls guidance pack. Tacma represents the domestic heating control manufacturing industry and is well placed to advise installers and customers on the best controls strategies for heat pumps.

"Alongside this, Beama's's Underfloor Heating Manufacturers Association will be seeking to publish guidance on the system benefits of effective control of low temperature heating systems.

"Beama's domestic heat pump manufacturer members have met with the EST and are working on year two preparations to complete the study. Working in partnership with Government on a sustainable market development plan is essential, as DECC has stated unequivocally that heat pumps have an important role in achieving Government policies to reduce CO2 emissions.

"As we decarbonise the grid and switch to a ‘smarter' grid system, heat pumps provide CO2 emission reductions and security of energy supply benefits – now and for the future.

"To support Government in its energy and environmental policy aims, and help develop a long-term sustainable heat pump market, Beama is looking forward to more intensive investigation of the year one field trial sites, and the measurement of new sites in year two."

* Comparing an SPF of 2.2 for a heat pump versus 80% system efficiency for an oil heating system and using SAP 2010 CO2 emission figures (note: boiler based heat systems achieve lower than 100% efficiency due to system losses and constraints of boiler efficiency).


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