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EU could offer energy efficient homebuyers better mortgages

Homebuyers across the EU could be offered better borrowing rates on mortgages in return for purchasing more energy efficient homes or committing to implement energy saving work within properties as part of a “ground-breaking” new project.

The European Energy Efficiency Mortgage initiative is aiming to create a standardised “energy efficient mortgage” based on preferential interest rates for energy efficient homes or additional funds for retrofitting homes at the time of purchase.

The scheme has been cited as the first ever collaboration between groups of major banks, mortgage lenders, businesses and organisations from the building and energy industries for the purpose of addressing the concept of energy efficient mortgages, with the project having been launched by a consortium led by the European Mortgage Federation (EMF) and the European Covered Bond Council (ECBC).

Partners of the project include the Ca’Foscari University of Venice, RICS, European Regional Network of Green Building Councils, E.ON, and SAFE Goethe University Frankfurt.

Commenting on the new initiative, Luca Bertalot, EMF-ECBC Secretary General, said: “We have the responsibility to design a sustainable environment for future generations by developing a pan-European mortgage financing mechanism, according to which energy efficiency investments are made more accessible and affordable for consumers and institutional investors, and the subsequent energy efficiency improvements reduce risk for banks, creating a win-win for all involved.”

The World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) claims that creating a private bank financing mechanism to encourage improvements in the energy efficiency of households is a key means of helping the EU to meet its energy saving target of 20 per cent by 2020 and to deliver on the ambition of the Paris Agreement reached at COP21 last December.

James Drinkwater, Europe Regional Director, World Green Building Council, believes the Paris Agreement has set a course to keeping global warming to within 2 degrees, but organisations will need to develop innovative ways of financing energy efficiency in Europe’s homes if we are to stand any chance of meeting that goal.

“Mortgages which reward consumers and investors by recognising energy efficiency represent one such way, and will undoubtedly play a key role in helping to achieve our ambitious climate change targets,” he said.

Emmanuel Normant, Vice-President for Sustainable Development at Saint-Gobain, which is on the project’s Energy Efficiency Committee and is a Partner of the European Regional Network of Green Building Councils, added: “As we need to speed up progress to meet our climate ambition, Saint-Gobain welcomes this timely initiative which has the potential to accelerate the uptake of renovation in Europe.

“Forging a common understanding of the value of energy efficiency between all players and private banks is an essential step to unlock investment in energy efficiency.”

Source: Energyzine

New retrofit scheme gives Scottish landlords efficiency options

A major programme to retrofit public sector buildings in Scotland and give all public sector organisations and registered social landlords the choice of having a combination of energy efficiency installations across their buildings has been launched.

The measures include building fabric, environmental service systems and their controls such as heating, cooling, lighting and water as well as local generation such as combined heat and power and district heating systems, with a total of 12 suppliers having been appointed to a procurement framework to deliver the retrofit works, which is estimated to be worth £300 million across Scotland’s public sector.

The scheme is expected to help save up to £30 million a year on energy bills, with Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing stating that the programme could transform Scotland’s public sector buildings and has the potential to save taxpayers millions of pounds.

“Improving the energy efficiency of all of Scotland’s buildings is a National Infrastructure Priority and this is a significant step forward in the drive to cut energy and maintenance costs and reduce carbon emissions,” he said.

“These projects pay for themselves as energy savings will, over time, pay for the installation costs and will also deliver a variety of wider community benefit including employment opportunities and business growth opportunities for the Scottish supply chain.”

Source: Energyzine

Over 1,800 organisations facing ESOS investigation

The Environment Agency (EA) is investigating up to 1,700 organisations for potentially failing to comply with the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) before the final deadline.

Regulators claim the organisations “may have been” required to carry out audits and submit their compliance information before the January 29 deadline, but failed to do so.

The organisations could risk incurring a basic fine of £50,000, along with an additional fine of £800 per day up to a maximum of 80 days. A further 150 organisations that have officially informed the EA of their intent to comply late are also being monitored closely, according to the government agency.

The EA claims that is has been looking at corporate data following the original 5th December 2015 deadline and the 62-day grace period to identify the organisations that should be participating in ESOS.

“We will normally use enforcement notices to bring organisations into compliance, serving civil penalties only in the most serious cases,” a spokesperson for the EA said. “Compliance notices can be served in cases where we suspect a breach and require further information.”

The ESOS Enforcement Team is now targeting those organisations deemed to be the highest risk, with a number of compliance and ESOS enforcement notices having already been issued.

Source: Energyzine

Continuation of energy efficiency fund gives Northern Ireland boost

Firms in Northern Ireland that want to purchase energy efficient equipment to cut costs and reduce the environmental impact of commercial energy consumption can continue to access Invest Northern Ireland’s 0% APR Energy Efficiency Loan Fund for at least two more years.

Following an independent review of the scheme’s success over the past 13 years and a competitive tender, the Carbon Trust has been awarded a new contract by Invest NI to extend the loans scheme.

Loans are provided to support businesses that are looking to replace their out of date and inefficient equipment, or that want to invest in renewables.

“Staying competitive in an increasingly challenging market is going to become a bigger priority for businesses in Northern Ireland. With our help, there are costs businesses can reduce without impacting their productivity”, according to Abigail Hermon, Head of Loans at the Carbon Trust.

Businesses in Northern Ireland can borrow between £3,000 and £400,000 to fund their project, at zero interest. Loans are designed so that in most cases the monthly savings on energy bills should exceed the monthly repayments, with the repayment term being between one and four years.

One business that has benefitted from an energy efficiency loan was Beverage Plastics in Craigavon. The company was able to install a new injection moulding machine, which saved them 55 per cent on their energy bills in just six months and will create an estimated reduction in carbon emissions of 700 tonnes a year.

Source: Energyzine

Consumer concerns over energy bills drop to lowest level

Government research has shown that consumers’ worries over paying for energy bills dropped to their lowest level last month since the project began more than four years ago.

Yet despite this, public support for energy efficiency continues to be strong and there is also a continuing high level of support for renewables.

The research clearly supports those in the ‘green’ manufacturing and installation industries, as well as those people and organisations within our own industry who have spoken out to claim that the public would be in support of new energy efficiency initiatives by the Government.

Consumers’ lack of concern about how they will pay the gas or electricity bill may be partly due to continuing low wholesale prices for energy, but it also suggests that the public have not been affected by warnings of price hikes if the UK voted for Brexit.

The research project, Energy and Climate Change Public Attitude Tracker, was started by the Department of Energy and Climate Change in March 2012, and consists of an annual survey every March and three shorter surveys, in June, September and December.

The latest research, which is now overseen by the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, was carried out between 28 September and 2 October 2016 using face-to-face in-home interviews with a representative sample of 2,080 households in the UK.

It showed that only 21% were either very or fairly worried about paying for their energy bills, which was 4% less than in June.  Least worried, not surprisingly, were the well off, but also pensioners.

Most worried, perhaps not surprisingly,  were tenants in the privately rented (31%) or social housing (28%) sectors where fuel poverty is thought to be worst.

These last figures may suggest, at least in part, that tenants are in less energy efficient homes and therefore facing proportionally bigger bills, but may also indicate that they have lower income.

Nevertheless the proportion of people that claim to give a lot of thought to saving energy in the home remained relatively stable, with figures very similar to those from the research a year ago.

In total three out of four people are concerned with household energy efficiency, with just under a quarter (24%) claiming to give a lot of thought to saving energy at home whilst half claimed to give it a fair amount of thought.

Support for renewable energy has been consistently high since the survey began in 2012, at around 75-80%, with 79% expressing support for the use of renewables last month, and Solar having the highest support at 82%.

For full details of the research go to https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/public-attitudes-tracking-survey-wave-19

Source: Energy Assessor Magazine

UK drops out of top ten on international energy sector table

The UK has fallen out of the top 10 of a respected international league table of countries’ energy sectors for the first time.

The World Energy Council blamed the government’s “lack of clarity” and “myriad of changes,” which it said have left the country facing a potential gap in energy supply.

The UK has previously been one of the top performers in the council’s “Trillema Index”, which has ranked countries on energy security, costs and decarbonisation efforts for the last six years.

However the Brexit vote, cuts to renewable energy subsidies and planned changes on foreign ownership have created investment uncertainty and significant challenges for the UK, according to the latest edition of the index for the London-headquartered agency, whose members include energy companies across the world.

The UK was also added to a watch list of countries where negative changes are expected imminently, alongside the US, Germany and Japan, while Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland took the top three positive slots in the ranking, with the UK now 11th.

Despite the recent decision to go ahead with new nuclear reactors at Hinkley in Somerset, the UK had a “distinct lack of policy direction”, the council’s chief said.

“Challenges in terms of improving affordability, and delivering security of supply as North Sea assets deplete, coupled with the rundown of worn-out legacy infrastructure, including coal-fired generation, has left the UK with a potential energy gap,” said Joan MacNaughton, executive chair of the council.

“Renewables are increasing as a percentage of the UK energy mix but their output is not yet at a level where energy security can be guaranteed.

“The market knows some of what to expect until 2020 but after this point there are no answers to how the country will finance the low-carbon transition.”

MacNaughton also added that it was not clear if Theresa May’s new government would back the “dash for gas” approach pushed by the former chancellor George Osborne under the last administration, stating that no alternative to gas had been made clear either.

Dr Colin Brown, director of engineering at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, believes that the report confirms that the UK government’s lack of clear energy policy is threatening the country’s future energy security.

“The recent approval of the Hinkley Point C nuclear, while promising, is only part of the solution to the UK securing its low carbon energy requirements for the future.”

A spokesperson for the government emphasised that keeping the lights on is non-negotiable and an absolute priority.

“We do not leave this up to chance, and the measures we have put in place through the capacity market, mean that homes and businesses will continue to have the supplies they need as we build an energy infrastructure fit for the 21st century.

“The UK is a global leader in attracting investment and we are already seeing the fruits from this in our energy infrastructure with more offshore wind, solar energy and nuclear capacity being developed across the country.

“We will continue to work with industry and other key stakeholders to ensure that our future energy supplies remain clean, secure and affordable.”

Source: Energyzine

Watchdog approaches DECC

The Government has messed up its sums on low carbon energy spending, which has wrecked the confidence of investors and left very little cash for new energy efficiency schemes for the remainder of this parliament up to 2020.

Those are the conclusions drawn by spending watchdog the National Audit Office, in a report out today on the Levy Control Framework, which was designed to control the energy efficiency funds provided by the big utilities from a levy on customers’ bills.

The levy system was intended to provide a major boost to energy efficiency and carbon reduction, but it has had a controversial history, being allegedly referred to by then Prime Minister David Cameron as ‘that green crap’ before the May 2015 general election, when he was desperate to compete with Labour over energy bill reduction.

The Levy Control Framework, established by the former Department of Energy & Climate Change and the Treasury, set a cap for the forecast costs of certain policies funded through levies.

Since November 2012, the Framework has covered three schemes to support investment in low-carbon energy generation: the Renewables Obligation, for large-scale renewables generation; the Feed-in Tariffs, for small-scale renewables generation, where domestic funding is based on EPCs; and Contracts for Difference, under which large-scale renewables generation prices are determined.

The NAO’s accountants said the Government’s weaknesses in forecasting and in its approach to allocating the Framework budget up until April 2015 have resulted in a situation in which there is little unallocated budget left for new projects between now and 2020-21.

They added that the government failed to fully consider the uncertainty around its central forecasts and define its appetite for the risks associated with that uncertainty.

“If the Department and HM Treasury had asked more explicitly ‘what if our forecasts or key assumptions are wrong?’, this might have prompted more robust design and monitoring of the Framework, and reduced the likelihood of significantly exceeding the Framework’s budgetary cap,” said the report.

“Today’s report also finds that the Framework has not met its potential to support investor confidence because of its short and decreasing timeframe and a lack of transparency over forecasts and how the budgetary cap would operate.”

The Head of the National Audit Office, Sir Amyas Morse, said: “The Levy Control Framework has helped make some of the impacts of renewable energy policies on consumers clearer.

“But government’s forecasting, allocation of the budget and approach to dealing with uncertainty has been poor, and so has not supported value for money.

“In addition, a lack of transparency over the Framework and expected future energy bills has undermined accountability to Parliament and consumers. I look forward to BEIS building on recent improvements it has made to the governance of the Levy Control Framework.”

Following the release of the NAO report, the permanent secretary for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alex Chisholm, revealed that he expects an emissions reduction plan to be published by the Department by the end of February 2017.

This might provide some much-needed clarity over where BEIS is headed on energy efficiency, since statements by ministers have given no clue so far, and the long-awaited Bonfield Review is clearly being held back from publication by ministers.

To download the full report go to https://www.nao.org.uk/report/controlling-the-consumer-funded-costs-of-energy-policies-the-levy-control-framework/

Source: Energy Assessor Magazine

New report casts doubt over smart meter viability

The Government needs to show that its claimed £6.2bn benefit, due from the roll-out of its smart meter programme, is based upon truly robust evidence, according to another scathing report upon the entire exercise – this time from the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee.

This is now the third Parliamentary report in as many years to cast doubt upon how well this £14bn programme is being managed.

A large part of the Government’s claimed net benefits of installing 53m new meters are dependent upon these suppliers passing on to consumers practically all the enormous system savings they will be making on reading meters, dealing with estimated bills, and tariff timeswitching. Past experience suggests this may well prove insufficient on its own to protect consumers. Hence the massive, recently concluded, referral of the entire energy market to the Competition and Markets Authority.

The Science Committee expressed considerable concern over the lack of clarity about the primary purpose of smart metering, with no less than 11 separate and “disparate” objectives making this difficult to perceive.

As a result, it warns of a risk that the project “will become viewed solely as an inefficient way of helping consumers to make small savings on their energy bills.”

In September 2014 the Public Accounts Committee produced a litany of recommendations for change, seemingly few of which have been followed-up. Last year the Energy Select Committee warned that plans to install energy saving smart meters in every UK home and business by 2019 were in danger of ending up a “costly failure.” This is because Departmental civil servants had not been managing the project effectively.

The MPs raised detailed concerns about failures with technical, logistical and public communication issues – each of which have resulted in yet further delays to the much-postponed national roll-out programme. The committee had “inspected the programme’s progress back in 2013, highlighting issues which we urged the Government to address”. Many of these had not been corrected. So “the programme runs the risk of falling far short of expectations.”

The entire smart meters policy was at a “crossroads.” Continuing with the current approach would “risk embarrassment through public disengagement,” turning this “flagship policy into a costly failure.”

The Science committee is very concerned at the continuing lack of interoperability, whereby customers switching suppliers find they lose smart functionality, and so are discouraged from switching supplier.

The consumer group, Which?, has already called for the complete abandonment of the smart meter roll-out programme. The Institute of Directors has expressed concern that it may end up being yet another Government IT programme failure.

Source: Energyzine

Scotlands plan for renewables boost

A new independent report claims that Scotland can and must obtain half of its energy from renewable sources within the next 14 years.

And an Energy Saving Trust report, also just published, shows that Scotland is already making progress towards this goal, estimating that 2015 saw the biggest annual increase in its renewable heat output since measurement began in 2008.

The report The Energy of Scotland: Heating, moving and powering our lives from now to 2030, was produced by WWF Scotland, Friends of the Earth Scotland and RSPB Scotland, and insists that 50% production of energy by that date is “necessary and achievable”.

Based on independent analysis by global technical consultancy Ricardo Energy and Environment, the report calls for a Warm Homes Act and a national energy efficiency programme to target producing half of all of Scotland’s energy across heat, transport and electricity from renewables by 2030.

The report predicts that by 2030 a national energy efficiency programme can reduce energy use by 30% and insulate millions of homes; 40% of Scottish homes will be heated from renewable sources; a third of cars and all buses will be electric, and Scotland’s electricity will be almost entirely generated from renewables.

Other benefits will include the creation of new jobs; warmer, healthier homes; and cleaner air helping to reduce the burden on the NHS, according to the report.

Several Scottish political parties have already made manifesto commitments to a 50 per cent renewable all-energy target, and the report comes as the Scottish Government develops Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme (SEEP) which is expected to provide investment of over £1 billion in energy efficiency by 2021 and create over 4,000 jobs a year from 2018.

Scottish Business, Innovation and Energy minister Paul Wheelhouse (right) said: “The Scottish government welcomes this report, which is a useful contribution to the ongoing debate around the future of energy in Scotland.”

The Energy Saving Trust report, produced on behalf of the Scottish Government, estimates that last year saw the largest annual increase in renewable heat output since measurement began in 2008, up by over 1,100 GWh in a single year.

In 2015, the proportion of non-electrical heat demand generated in Scotland from renewable sources is expected to be at least 5.3 per cent, up from 3.8 per cent in 2014 and a continuation of year-on-year increases since 2008/2009.

The majority of the increase in output came from large commercial sites installing biomass and combined heat and power systems, and from installations supported by the non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive.

However, renewable heat capacity in homes, including small-scale biomass as well as other increasingly popular technologies such as heat pumps, has also risen, with capacity growing by 44 per cent between 2014 and 2015.

Scottish Minister for business, innovation and energy Mr Wheelhouse said: “With Autumn well underway, and the weather getting noticeably cooler, families and businesses across Scotland will, no doubt, be considering turning on their heating for the cooler weather ahead.

“Heat makes up more than 50 per cent of Scotland’s current energy consumption and approximately 47 per cent of our emissions, the largest source for both.

“That is why these record-breaking figures are so encouraging. They show that programmes such as the District Heating Loan Scheme, the Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme and the Home Energy Scotland renewables loans scheme are inspiring people to harness renewable energy to heat their homes and their businesses.

“These and our other programmes support the uptake of the GB-wide Renewable Heat Incentive scheme, in which Scotland continues to punch above its weight.

“That is not to say we should be in any way complacent. We have a target of 11% of non-electrical heat demand from renewable sources by 2020 and while these figures show we are making great progress in both reducing our demand for heat and increasing the output of renewable heat we need to do more.

“So, these figures also highlight there is much more work to do to reduce demand, supply heat more efficiently and increase the role renewable heat plays in Scotland’s energy mix. That’s why we continue to develop new and existing avenues of support in this important area and this will be reflected in our forthcoming Energy Strategy.

Source: Energyzine

Meeting legal building emissions targets could deliver £45bn

Cutting greenhouse gas emissions from buildings will be a key part of tackling climate change, and meeting legal targets for around 2030 could deliver £45 billion in benefits including savings on energy costs, improved air quality and health, claims a new report.

The study, from the Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE) and the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP), also argues that Government policies are set to miss the targets for cutting emissions from buildings by 18 per cent.

Furthermore, uncertainty over how well the policies will play out could mean emissions from homes and businesses could exceed the limits for the period 2028-2032 by 30 per cent, warns the report.

The research examined 48 policies that could reduce uncertainty and further cut emissions and makes 15 recommendations for the Government to take forward, with the Government having previously abandoned a flagship “green deal” home energy efficiency scheme, which had very low take-up and ditched targets to make homes “zero carbon” by 2016.

Recommendations in the new study include introducing minimum energy efficiency standards at point-of-sale for homes and businesses and tightening new building standards so they are zero carbon or near zero carbon, along with introducing a programme of technical and financial assistance should help property owners meet standards for energy efficiency when they sell their buildings.

Pedro Guertler, research director at ACE, said the move would be needed for the UK to meet its climate targets.

“It would also have a transformative effect on our buildings – making the places we live and work in cheaper to run, more comfortable, and healthier, more productive spaces to be in.

“I’ll be the first to acknowledge that such a requirement is perceived as challenging to introduce, but successive governments have seen through far greater challenges in other policy areas.

“The new requirement for all properties to achieve a minimum standard of energy performance at point of sale – an ideal time to undertake renovations – would need to be trailed long before it came into force.

“And support for achieving it – great free advice about insulation, efficient appliances and low carbon heating systems, attractive finance deals and financial rewards for going further than you have to – would need to be introduced well in advance, to ensure high quality results, and to make it quick and easy for all affected property owners to do.”

Dr Jan Rosenow, senior associate at RAP, said reducing emissions from buildings to meet targets set out for 2028-2032 in the “fifth carbon budget” would be hugely beneficial for the UK economy.

” Unlike many environmental necessities, efficient buildings more than pay for themselves: we estimate the net benefit of meeting the 5th carbon budget in buildings from energy cost savings, emissions savings, improved air quality and health, and comfort and productivity to be in excess of £45 billion,” he said.

Dr Rosenow also adds that there would be skilled employment needed to transform buildings, the value of avoided gas imports, boost to the wider economy and the additional revenue of the economic activity that would be generated for the Exchequer.

Source: Energyzine

Tarmac paves the way in post-ESOS efficiency report

Construction firm Tarmac has ramped up its energy efficiency efforts through the roll out of on-site technologies, the uptake of demand-response, and the development of an energy management system to help measure, monitor and improve efficiencies across the business.

The CSR report highlights that Tarmac is making “good progress” towards its 2020 target of a 37 per cent reduction in carbon emissions after reaching a 27 per cent fall by the end of 2015.

In its 2015 sustainability report released this week, Tarmac specifically highlights an attainment of the ISO 50001 energy management standard across the Birmingham-based firm’s estate.

Achieving ISO 50001 certification effectively enabled Tarmac to “further raise the profile of energy with managers and on-site staff” and made it one of the first companies in the construction sector to comply with the Government’s Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS), the report states.

Overall, the report notes that Tarmac is making “good progress” towards its 2020 target of a 37 per cent reduction in carbon emissions from a 1990 baseline, after reaching a 27 per cent fall by the end of 2015.

Throughout the year, Tarmac identified further opportunities to improve site efficiency through various technology advancements. For instance, at its Linford site in Essex, the firm managed to reduce gas and electricity consumption by more than 25 per cent in 2015 through changes including improved boiler efficiency, the implementation of LED lighting and optimised compressed air systems.

“Sustainability remains a cornerstone of managing the long-term future of our business, and plays a fundamental role in shaping our growth strategy,” write Tarmac’s senior vice presidents Martin Riley and Oliver Mahon in the report.

“It also underpins our Group vision of being the world’s leading building materials company, through a sustainability framework that creates value for all stakeholders in a consistent, sustainable and responsible way.

“For Tarmac, it encompasses how we build stronger relationships with customers and anticipate their requirements; how we keep our people safe; how we build a business that people want to work for; how we develop our operations and solutions in a way that optimises environmental, social and economic performance; how we ensure strong financial and ethical governance; and how we foster ever closer relationships with local communities around our sites. These are all business-critical issues at the heart of our sustainability strategy.”

Tarmac’s energy reduction achievements were further helped last year through a partnership with demand-side response (DSR) company Open Energi, which resulted in the installation of more than 200 bitumen tanks at around 70 of the firm’s asphalt plants.

Source: Energyzine

Ofgem E-Serve backs deemed scores

As expected, regulatory body Ofgem e-serve has backed the scrapping of EPCs in ECO and their replacement with controversial ‘deemed scores’ from April next year.

In its response to its consultation opened in late May this year the organisation, which vets installers’ ECO claims, said it expects the process to be simpler and cheaper if EPCs are excluded from the scheme.

However, whether or not the change goes ahead will depend on the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, which closed its consultation on the change on 17 August, but has yet to respond to the views it received.

Ofgem e-serve had never consulted on whether ‘deemed scores’, used by installers prior to ECO, should be re-introduced, but consulted on how they should be applied after installers called for them to be brought back.

However accreditation bodies and assessor organisations have pointed out that ‘deemed scores’ involve as few as two criteria to determine the eligibility of a property for improvement, which critics claim will lead to the least efficient properties, which are most expensive to improve, missing out.

Ofgem e-serve received 73 responses to its consultation, including three from accreditation bodies, three from domestic energy assessors or assessor associations, and nine from energy companies including all eight energy suppliers obligated to participate in the Energy Company Obligation scheme.

With reference, no doubt, to the assessor responses, the regulator said: ” Several respondents used the consultation to share their disagreement with a move to a deemed scores approach and did not directly address the specific questions asked in the consultation.”

It seems likely that the assessment industry responses were disregarded, but assessors clearly made their presence felt in the consultation.  For example, responses to Question 9, ‘Do you agree with the deemed scores produced’, meant a combination of assessors and possibly some disgruntled installers led to 65% of respondents disagreeing.

We can only now wait to see what BEIS says in response to its consultation.  it is currently promising a response “soon”.

DEAs may not be entirely eliminated from ECO however, since accreditation bodies have been calling for greater focus in ECO on the most poorly rated properties, which would have to be identified by EPCs – see EPCs vital to beat fuel poverty – and even Ofgem e-serve has been receptive to the idea – see Ofgem leaves door open for EPCs.

Source: Energy Assessor Magazine

Energy efficiency can boost economy

Energy efficiency in buildings will be essential to meet the Government’s latest carbon emissions targets and can lead to a massive boost to the UK economy, says a new report.

Research organisations The Association for the Conservation of Energy and The Regulatory Assistance Project claim that tackling our energy efficiency climate deficit is essential and could lead to a £45 billion boost to UK economy.

But they say that successive Governments have failed to act on energy efficiency and ministers now need to legislate to ensure all properties achieve a minimum standard of energy efficiency when sold.

Their report, Buildings and the 5th Carbon Budget, says that greenhouse gas emissions from buildings are set to exceed the legally binding 2028 – 2032 limit placed on them for the 5th Carbon Budget by 18% according to Government projections, though research suggests the figure could actually be as high as 30%.

The report recommends that the Government act to require all homes and business premises to reach a minimum standard of energy efficiency when they are sold, and that Government should also create a programme of technical and financial assistance to help property owners to meet the standard.

There are already ‘minimum energy standards’ regulations due to come into force in April 2018, though proposals for amendments are still awaited – see 2018 : Landlords Must Pay Up – but the authors of this report would like to see a scheme going much further.

Pedro Guertler (right), Research Director at the Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE), said: “Requiring homes and business premises to attain a minimum standard of energy efficiency when they are put on the market will be necessary for the UK to meet its climate targets.

“It would also have a transformative effect on our buildings – making the places we live and work in cheaper to run, more comfortable, and healthier, more productive spaces to be in.

“I’ll be the first to acknowledge that such a requirement is perceived as challenging to introduce, but successive governments have seen through far greater challenges in other policy areas.

“Landlords already have to follow similar rules for rental properties. The new requirement for all properties to achieve a minimum standard of energy performance at point of sale – an ideal time to undertake renovations – would need to be trailed long before it came into force.

“And support for achieving it – great free advice about insulation, efficient appliances and low carbon heating systems, attractive finance deals and financial rewards for going

further than you have to – would need to be introduced well in advance, to ensure high quality results, and to make it quick and easy for all affected property owners to do.

“But make no mistake, without such a requirement, the vibrant retrofit market needed to deliver emissions reductions from buildings at the scale we need will not materialise. And we will not be serious about fixing our climate and abiding by greenhouse gas limits the Government has only just put into law. It would be all talk and no walk.”

Dr Jan Rosenow (below), Senior Associate at the Regulatory Assistance Project, said: “Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from buildings to meet the 5th Carbon Budget would be hugely beneficial to UK plc.

“And unlike many environmental necessities, efficient buildings more than pay for themselves: we estimate the net benefit of meeting the 5th Carbon Budget in buildings from energy cost savings, emissions savings, improved air quality and health, and comfort and productivity to be in excess of £45 billion.

“On top of this, there is the value of skilled employment needed across the country to transform buildings into low carbon assets, the value of avoided gas imports and improved energy security, the boost to GDP it would deliver, and the additional revenue this economic activity would generate for the Exchequer.

“The Government needs to legislate to ensure that buildings that are put on the market meet basic energy efficiency standards. But this is just a part of the picture. Better enforcement of existing rules, high quality advice for renovation, finance that costs less to repay than the energy savings, and tax incentives are all needed too, and needed first.”

The Government agreed to adopt the Committee on Climate Change recommended ‘5th Carbon Budget’ on 30 June, and Parliament passed it into law in July. This places a legally binding limit on the amount of greenhouse gases the UK is allowed to emit from 2028 to 2032.

Under the Climate Change Act, the Government is due to publish a Carbon Plan this year, showing how it intends to meet the 5th Carbon Budget.  However, on 7 September Climate Minister Nick Hurd hinted that the Carbon Plan’s publication might be delayed to next year, saying: “It’s more important to get this right than to rush something out that doesn’t hit the target.”

Source: Energy Assessor Magazine

The potential of surface water heat pumps

With the take up of low-carbon heating at a low level Phil Jones, independent energy consultant and chairman of the CIBSE CHP-DH Group, looks at the huge potential of surface water heat pumps and wonders what can be done to promote their increased use in the UK.

Take-up of existing low carbon heating technology is below 2.5 per cent of demand, a problem caused largely by a lack of confidence in its use. As problems go, lack of confidence is a tricky one to solve, and it’s an issue that has plagued ground, air and water source heat pumps for many years.

In a chicken and egg type scenario, low take-up of surface water source heat pump (SWSHP) technology caused by lack of confidence means that (no matter how effective the technology) there is a shortage of examples of the technology in action.

If there are few examples, there is very little information about how they perform. If there isn’t much information, few technical documents or best-practice manuals can be created. If these don’t exist, it is less attractive to train to install the technology. And if few people are trained to install it, potential investors won’t be confident enough in the technology to buy it – and the cycle goes round again.

By producing this SWSHP Code of Practice CIBSE, the Heat Pump Association (HPA) and the Ground Source Heat Pump Association (GSHPA) are trying to break that cycle by filling the void with information and training. By using a practical best practice guide investors can be confident that installers are working to the best wisdom on the topic available, and standards across this part of the industry can be improved.

One innovation which is a key part of the new Code is the Water Source Heat Map, produced by the former DECC, which shows locations throughout the UK that are suitable for a SWSHP system. This is the first of its kind, and it reveals just how great the untapped potential of the technology is in the UK. We are blessed with thousands of miles of waterways, from rivers to canals to coastlines, which have the potential to produce low carbon heat from urban areas to the wildest of countryside.

Water naturally sits at a higher temperature than the ground or the air, giving SWSHPs an inherent advantage over other kinds, and the technology is more versatile. It can heat and cool as well as do both simultaneously, for example, and it can do so at a range of temperatures from 35 to 95oC. It is this versatility which also makes it an attractive long-term investment, providing financial and sustainability benefits through the whole life of the building with proper maintenance.

This is also where guidance comes in. SWSHPs have the potential to provide low-cost, low-carbon heat to a building throughout its working life, but in order to do this most effectively they need to be specified, installed, commissioned and maintained correctly in the first place in order to get the most out of the system. The industry has been crying out for concrete guidance so that clients have a measurable standard to hold their projects to, which is what we’ve been working towards.

Each potential application has its own challenges and opportunities and the final design adopted can have a substantial impact on the civil and mechanical engineering required. Depending on the project this can increase or reduce the capital and operational costs. The civil engineering costs of structures for open loop abstraction and discharging water, for example, can often be a significant part of the capex, particularly on larger schemes. The level of heat abstraction/discharge capacity can be an important determining factor when considering the suitability of a smaller river or a slow flowing canal or particularly a static body of water like a lake or reservoir.

These are just a few of the many considerations that need to be taken into account when specifying the system, never mind the actual process of installing it and the (hopefully!) decades long process of keeping it maintained. As more systems are installed around the country and we get more data about their performance, confidence in SWSHP technology will grow on its own. In the meantime, the most important thing is to spread best practice and minimum standards throughout the industry using documents like the Code of Practice in conjunction with training, to demonstrate to engineers what is possible with a SWSHP system.

This type of heat pump takes advantage of a natural resource that Britain has in abundance, and will be a vital part of the UK’s heating plans going forward. With the benefit of saving British homes and businesses money in bills and maintenance along the way, this technology can help shelter them from fuel insecurity and attracting investment in the form of Government grants.

Source: Energyzine

£9M to combat Scottish fuel poverty

The Scottish Government has put up £9m to run pilot schemes across the country trialling new and innovative approaches to combating fuel poverty.

The cash, targeting businesses, community groups and individuals working and living in areas with particularly high levels of fuel poverty, will be split between 11 local authorities in the worst affected areas.

The money will come from the Pathfinder Fund, part of Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme (SEEP) which is expected to provide investment of over £1 billion in energy efficiency by 2021 and create over 4,000 jobs a year from 2018.

A Government statement said these pilots will help shape the wider work that will be delivered when SEEP is rolled out further from 2018, and there will also be a further £5m in current funding which will be allocated to other projects.

The £9m allocation will support projects providing internal and external insulation, solar PV, biomass, district heating and other measures to homeowners and tenants, as well as businesses.

Announcing the funding, Scottish Cabinet secretary for communities, social security and equalities, Angela Constance (right), said: “Since 2008 over one million energy efficiency measures have been installed in almost one million households across Scotland which has helped make homes warmer and easier to heat.

“The Scottish Government will continue to prioritise tackling fuel poverty and remains committed to helping those most in need.

These SEEP pilot projects will build on our existing support for households and also improve the energy efficiency of community centres, charities, businesses and commercial properties.

“Tackling fuel poverty is a priority for us, but we need to be creative if we want to make a real lasting difference. I look forward to seeing how councils can bring their innovative ideas to life to reduce energy bills and tackle fuel poverty in their communities.”

Scottish Minister for business, innovation and energy, Paul Wheelhouse (left), added: “By taking a coordinated approach to improving buildings across the commercial, public and industrial sectors we are not only boosting the economy but will be able to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which will help us meet our ambitious climate change targets.

“This is part of our overall investment of over £1 billion by 2021 in energy efficiency which aims to make homes and buildings warmer, improve health outcomes and create a supply chain across all of Scotland which will support around 4,000 jobs a year once the programme is fully operational.”

The local authorities receiving funding at present are:

Aberdeen City        £1,260,038

Aberdeenshire        £660,700

City of Edinburgh    £1, 027, 774

East Lothian          £857,323

Fife                     £348,301

Glasgow City         £620, 400

Midlothian             £928,484

Shetland              £383,861

South Lanarkshire  £597,013

Stirling                £1,075,850

West Lothian        £450,625

Source: Energy Assessor Magazine

Energy management tools important as the nights get longer

Winter is coming. As energy demand rises, flexible energy management could provide businesses with a tool for balancing their budgets, says Jeff Whittingham, managing director of DONG Energy Sales UK.

The UK’s changing energy mix has made balancing supply and demand more complex than in the past. Businesses can no longer afford to play the part of passive consumers. Energy users have a new and vital role to play in making the UK’s energy system work. That role is perhaps best known as demand side response.

Put simply, this means switching down when anticipated demand outstrips supply, shifting load away from peak periods, and generating power onsite at optimal times wherever possible. If businesses take on this responsibility, the benefits to us all in the long term will be significant and far reaching.

But what about the benefits for those businesses right now? What is the motivation for time-strapped company leaders and energy managers to sign up to one or more of the plethora of new flexibility schemes available to them? And how can we as an industry remove the obstacles which might prevent the decision makers from getting involved and seeing their business reap the more immediate rewards this coming winter, as well as in the longer term?

The benefits in store for businesses who choose to embrace flexibility go well beyond short-term financial gains. They can also deliver results in terms of CSR goals and stabilisation of longer term, industry-wide energy prices.

Nonetheless, seeing immediate impact on this winter’s energy bill and creating a new revenue stream for your business at a time of squeezed budgets are two great reasons to move to a flexible energy strategy now rather than later.

Flexibility has the potential to deliver significant savings to businesses of all sizes. Thinking about the times at which your business uses energy – avoiding peak periods during the day and making use of Triad warning schemes for instance – will make a real difference to your bottom line. For those who have already exhausted all of the ‘quick win’ options for energy efficiency, a well thought out demand management strategy is the natural next step.

Thanks to recent innovation across the energy industry, the options for getting your business there are ever-increasing; whether you’re interested in easy-to-implement “starter” options such as Market Price Optimisation, or are ready to take the plunge with more tech-reliant schemes that might require a higher level of commitment.

Add a new revenue stream to the savings you will already be making and the reasons for taking part really start to stack up. Most flexibility schemes, like DONG Energy’s own Renewable Balancing Reserve (RBR), offer a financial incentive for participation – such as a share of the imbalance cost savings made thanks to your business’s flexibility.

What exactly are the business barriers to flexibility? We thought this was a question best asked of the businesses themselves, which is why we decided to host a learning workshop exploring the energy management issues facing businesses. We were keen to discover why participation in flexibility schemes across the board wasn’t as high as it could be. After all, the secure energy future of all UK consumers depends significantly on us being able to better nurture our sustainable options.

The answers we were given are fully explored in our new Flexibility Report1. However, the most common theme to emerge throughout the workshop was an incomplete understanding of the options available to businesses and the value they could bring.

While the amount of information available has grown almost as quickly as the range of Demand Side Response (DSR) products in the marketplace, that information can be difficult to interpret and apply to a business with its own specific range of challenges, run schedules and equipment.

The overarching business needs which we were able to identify as crucial to driving participation can be summarised as follows:

  • more clarity over the range of flexibility products and services available;
  • risk-free flexibility schemes with low or no penalties for non-delivery and a guaranteed revenue for reserve;
  • the opportunity to participate year-round, not just during winter peaks;
  • flexibility schemes that are easier to take part in, contractually and operationally
  • integrated energy solutions for both electricity supply and flexibility; and
  • guidance on how flexibility could contribute to carbon reduction.

Integral to all of these requirements, the overall message rings clear: businesses need tailored products from industry partners who fully understand their operational requirements and limitations. They also need a robust and quantifiable case for flexibility if they are to prioritise it over other energy-related projects.

If we accept that flexibility is the key to helping businesses weather the storm this winter, as well to ensuring a better energy future for us all, then it is imperative that we take action. We must look for ways to break down the jargon, simplify the options and support businesses in selecting the most appropriate flexibility solutions for them.

Reference 1. Available for download at http://www.dongenergy.co.uk/energyforbusiness.

Source: Energyzine

When it comes to humidity, energy efficiency is key

When an existing building lacks effective humidity control it may be necessary to retrofit humidification. This needs to be done in the most energy-efficient fashion, says John Barker, a director of Humidity Solutions Ltd.

In recent years there has been growing emphasis on the importance of maintaining indoor air quality (IAQ) in the workplace. However, the focus is very often on avoiding a build-up of pollutants in the air, with less attention to relative humidity (RH).

As a result, many older buildings (and even some relatively new ones) were not fitted with specific humidity control systems, which are often ‘value-engineered’ out of original specifications. These buildings are therefore vulnerable to fluctuations in RH caused by factors such as natural ventilation/ leaky buildings, air conditioning, operation of the heating system etc.

For example, when the building is constructed to modern standards of airtightness there may be problems because of reliance on mechanical ventilation systems. The effectiveness of these depends on the outdoor air having a suitable moisture content. In fact, outdoor air in cold weather is often very low in moisture, and heating it when it enters the building will create very low RH levels.

Consequently, in the UK it is far more common to experience problems with low RH than with high RH, especially in the winter when RH levels may well fall below 20 per cent in a heated building during the winter.

Increasing the amount of outdoor air being introduced the building will not help as the moisture content is low – plus the need to temper this air and increase the fan power required to move it around would greatly increase energy consumption.

Humidity control via the addition of a humidifier is therefore the only way to achieve comfortable conditions.

The acceptable RH range for commercial workplaces is 40-60 per cent and this suits both human and machine occupants. When the RH is either side of this range, problems can occur. Above 60 per cent RH people feel hot and sweaty out of all proportion to the actual temperature. This means that where comfort cooling is installed people are likely to lower the room set point temperature so that energy consumption increases. If there is no comfort cooling, people’s capacity to focus on their work is impaired under high RH conditions.

Below 40 per cent RH people will feel colder than is justified by the actual temperature and will often turn the heating up to compensate – once again wasting energy. Ironically, raising the temperature also lowers the RH even further, thus exacerbating the problem.

The most effective and energy efficient way to deal with low humidity, particularly when retrofitting to an existing building, is to introduce a separate humidification system that will inject water vapour directly into the space.

In the majority of workplaces, it also needs to be a system that can be used in conjunction with relatively low ceilings.

There are several ways of achieving direct injection of moisture into a room and it is important to be aware of the different characteristics of these to ensure the best solution is specified.

These options include atmospheric steam generators with fan boxes on top, or ultrasonic humidifiers spread around the perimeters of the building. However, both options take up valuable floor space and do little to complement the aesthetics. A less visually intrusive alternative would be to use wetted media placed above the ceiling but this will require extra ductwork and diffusers.

An alternative, that is discreet, does not take up floor space and is easy to retrofit, is a pressurised water system using compact multi-directional, fan-assisted nozzles, so that the water is atomised and absorbed into the air (adiabatic humidification).

The nozzles are about the same size as a CCTV camera and are served by a high-pressure water ring main that follows cable routes and uses mechanical joints so no fire certification is required for the site.

Nozzles can be controlled in small groups in a zone, with multiple zones possible from one central controller that maintains the water treatment plant and pumping station. The fan in each nozzle ensures the water is atomised and absorbed within 1.5m of the nozzle, enabling this system to be used in spaces with ceiling heights as low as 2.4m. The fact that cold water is used means there is no additional heating energy required for the humidifier and free cooling is provided, which can generate additional energy savings by reducing the load on comfort cooling systems.

The design of pressurised water systems facilitates centralised water treatment at the pumping station which can be housed in an appropriate equipment plant room or store area so that access for maintenance is straightforward and does not disrupt the workplace.

In taking these steps to gain effective control over RH in winter, building occupiers don’t just get a healthy and comfortable workplace and reduce absenteeism, they are also able to turn the temperature set point down to reduce energy usage. So, when the full picture is taken into account, humidity control makes perfect environmental and economic sense.

Source: Energyzine

A new energy department faces a massive challenge

Dave Cockshott, chief commercial officer, Inenco Group, urges the newly formed Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy department to provide policy certainty in the light of the massive challenges the UK’s energy industry is facing.

The UK needs £215bn of investment in energy by 2030 according to Barclays analysis published in August, based on the anticipated closure of coal, gas and nuclear plants – 70 per cent of all ‘reliable’ generation. This opens up a new world of opportunities for low-carbon technology, storage and innovation that will revolutionise our energy system, providing we have the right market conditions to deliver it.

In a recent survey of business energy users by Inenco, 80 per cent wanted Government to prioritise a long-term policy framework for energy, with the common sentiment that “investors and the market must have confidence in the security of their investments and a clear indication of the future direction.”

The whirlwind of change in Westminster following the Brexit referendum, greater market volatility and delayed decisions has created jittery investors and an uncertain market for businesses in which to operate. The question mark hanging over energy makes for a significant challenge – but what does it mean for businesses?

Lack of certainty in the industry is not new but the sheer scale of it is exacerbating the usual fluctuating status of energy policy. Its effect extends beyond the investment community: business energy users also need certainty to plan future energy strategy and budget with confidence.

Inenco’s survey – conducted in the wake of a new Prime Minister and a newly formed Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) – gauged business energy users’ opinions on the current climate and asked them to rank the issues they felt BEIS should prioritise. The clear response was a call for more certainty, from climate change to future energy taxes.

Beyond the overwhelming sentiment that Government needs to bring forward infrastructure investment, businesses are also calling on BEIS to conclude the recent business energy efficiency tax review. 71 per cent called for a swift decision on what grants or incentives will be made available for energy efficiency measures, and 62 per cent are keen to know BEIS’ preferences for the new single reporting framework due to be introduced in 2019.

The strategic importance of energy and climate change was also questioned. The merger of DECC and BIS into one department might hint at greater integration between business and energy policy, and 42 per cent of respondents it will shift energy higher up the agenda, but 34 per cent believe energy needs a dedicated governmental department and now risks becoming an afterthought.

There was mixed opinion to what the departmental shake up means for climate change; over half of all surveyed believe that it will be deprioritised. Over 40 per cent expressed a need for Government to prioritise its approach to the ‘energy revolution’ required to meet the challenges set out by ratifying the fifth carbon budget and signing up to the Paris Climate Agreement.

This comes at a time when National Grid has warned that meeting our 2020 renewable energy targets looks unlikely, predominantly because transport and heat are lagging behind power generation. Looking beyond 2020, Grid expressed some doubt around the UK’s ability to meet our 2050 commitments without a low carbon strategy that goes far beyond the challenge to decarbonise power generation.

As many industrial and commercial users are only too aware, the burden of meeting carbon targets often translates into new subsidies and regulations that weigh heavy on the bottom line.

While the current economic climate means many businesses are focused more on the next 12 months than the next decade, the political climate and investment appetite governs future energy costs. This call for certainty is as much about the impact on the bill as it is about security of supply.

Controlling the controllable has never been more important: risk management has broadened and now encompasses all areas of a business’ energy strategy. While non-commodity costs now command the lion’s share of the bill and some charges are fixed, there are still some within a business’ gift to control – particularly through demand management. Shifting load away from critical peak demand periods not only avoids DUoS red bands and potential Triad periods but, from winter 17/18, will also ensure capacity mechanism costs are minimised.

Identifying flexibility in your demand can also unlock the door to demand side response schemes: Grid’s Demand Side Balancing Response scheme for the coming winter may have been withdrawn unexpectedly, but participation in the capacity market is still a possibility and can unlock new revenue streams.

Understanding new regulations and changes in the market early on can also make a big difference to your utility management strategy and ensure your business has time to react to changes. From avoiding paying over the odds for new meter charges under P272 or understanding how the increase to Climate Change Levy impacts your business, working with an energy expert with an understanding of your sector can reduce the time required to navigate this complex market.

The message from business energy users is clear: Government must act quickly to reassure investors and provide industry with the long-term certainty required to plan for the future with confidence.

Source: Energyzine

Heat pump plan would cost £300bn, says Policy Exchange

Plans proposed by the previous Government to decarbonise heating by fitting electric heat pumps in most homes by 2050 would cost about £300bn, claims a new report from the Policy Exchange.

The paper, which takes into account the installation cost of more than £8,500 per heat pump, the cost of upgrading the grid, and the additional 100GW of power generation capacity that would be required to meet the demand for electricity, reveals that it would cost as much as £12,000 per household to deliver the coalition’s plans to reduce carbon emissions from domestic heating.

The analysis argues that the newly created Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (DBEIS) needs to “completely re-think its approach and look at alternatives,” with the research organisation also highlighting that the government could still meet its target of reducing carbon emissions from domestic heating by 80 per cent through a range of measures.

The UK-based think tank suggest that improving energy efficiency by tightening standards for new build homes and for existing private rented properties, linking the stamp duty system to energy performance to encourage households to improve their properties and making better use of gas by encouraging people to replace old boilers with new highly efficient boilers could all contribute to the government’s carbon reduction goal.

The report also proposes expanding the use of “greener gases” such as injecting biomethane into the gas grid, which can be made from food waste, along with supporting the development of new technologies which convert “black bag” residual waste into synthetic biogas and exploring the possibility of converting the gas to the grid to run on hydrogen.

The paper warns that the UK is significantly off track to meeting legally binding carbon budgets covering the period to 2032, and the lack of progress to decarbonise heating could make or break the UK’s carbon plans.

It also urges the government to put affordability at the heart of its decarbonisation strategy by shifting away from its focus on electric heat pumps to alternatives.

The UK will have to pump up the heat to meet carbon targets

To achieve the tough UK carbon targets, a major decarbonisation of heat production in the building sector is required. Heat pumps have a significant role to play, proposes Marc Overson, Panasonic Heating and Cooling UK & Ireland country manager.

How does the recent exit from the European Union impact the UK’s effort towards carbon reduction? Theresa May’s decision to replace the Department of Energy and Climate Change with the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has raised concerns that there has been a decrease in efforts to reduce carbon emissions, with industry commentators and green lobby groups fearing the UK will loosen its position on climate change measures following Brexit.

In a bid to meet its 80 per cent reduction target by 2050, the UK is taking steps to source 15 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. There will also be significant changes underway in terms of our energy mix. By 2030, the UK will have closed 82 per cent of its existing fossil fuel based power station capacity1. The government is looking at cleaner ways of generating electricity including a potential role for nuclear alongside renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and tidal power.

However, the tough targets set cannot be met by large-scale electricity generation alone. The government will continue to look to reduce the UK’s emissions by targeting energy efficiencies across all sectors including buildings. Buildings already account for 50 per cent of global electricity consumption and according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), that figure is going to jump by 80 per cent due to rapid urbanisation over the next 25 years2.

Meeting the UK’s 2050 greenhouse gas reduction target efficiently is likely to require almost a full decarbonisation of heat production in the building sector, according to analysts Frontier Economics and Element Energy in a report for the CCC3. Analysis carried out by the CCC suggests that the roll-out of heat pumps is likely to form a substantial part of this process.

The government has sought to increase the take-up of heat pumps in both the residential and commercial sectors through the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme. Ground, water and air-to-water heat pumps are eligible for tariff payments for generation of heat (in terms of pence/ kWh) by renewable fuels.

It is essential that controls are part of an efficient heat pump system. The IEA argues that there is massive potential for improved energy efficiency in buildings. It says that up to 82 per cent of energy efficiency measures remain untapped in buildings today; up to half of this energy efficiency potential can be realised through improved control of the building and the integration of systems that work together2.

Panasonic is currently developing a system which combines the benefits of air source heat pump technology, solar power and the intelligence of smart meters; with the company’s simple yet effective control solutions to work in conjunction with the energy grid for a green revolution. With the demand for energy increasing, the grid has to adapt as society requires a more constant supply. Intelligent electricity networks – Smart Grids – will be a key component in the UK’s energy strategy to meet government targets. In the last few years, Smart grid projects have been growing in number, size and scope throughout Europe.

Panasonic is part of the Smart Electric Lyon consortium, a project that looks at electricity consumption as a key contributor to building energy solutions. The project aims to develop a wide range of innovative facilities and services through real-life experiments to test energysaving technologies measuring how consumers can control energy consumption. This experiment, unprecedented in scale in Europe, will be conducted for four years in more than 25,000 homes, businesses and communities of Grand Lyon. It is intended to test innovative solutions that will consume less energy and perform better than traditional systems in order to establish a sustainable alternative.

Panasonic will provide the project with a variety of its energy efficient heating and cooling products including the Aquarea air source heat pump.

One outdoor unit – which may be reinforced by solar panels – heats the water for domestic use and for the radiators or radiant floor. The system can also be retrofitted to the central heating system to reduce installation costs. It is the most innovative option for complete retrofits and for new builds.

The UK is in the midst of a massive change as it undergoes rapid electrification. We are witnessing more electric vehicles, electric heat pumps, an integration of solar PV and a drift from fossil fuels. The good news is that the technology is here today. Smart grids and controllable heat pumps are key to achieving a sustainable future. Companies including Panasonic are leading this progress with innovative solutions that reduce carbon, save energy and improve comfort for households and businesses alike.


1) The New Power Cost League Table: A clear view of the consumer cost of new build power stations, Tidal Lagoon Power, July 2016.

2) World Energy Outlook 2015, International Energy Agency, November 2015.

3) Pathways to high penetration of heat pumps. Report prepared for the Committee on Climate Change, Frontier Economics and Element Energy, October 2013.

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