The U.K. has big plans for heat pumps. Its ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution, published in November to outline policy priorities for achieving a net-zero economy by 2050, is aiming for 600,000 heat pumps to be installed annually by 2028. This is a huge ramp-up of ambition from a country that installs around 22,000 heat pumps each year, of which only about a quarter are more efficient ground source heat pumps. The U.K. is far behind other European countries in installation rates — market leader France sold 275,000 heat pumps in 2018, with Italy, Spain and Scandinavian countries all far ahead of the U.K., according to data from the European Heat Pump Association. The ten-point plan said that a “market-led incentive framework” would be introduced to drive growth, especially in off-gas grid properties. But no further detail was given, and a major energy policy update has been long overdue. Industry is keen to boost installation rates, but has been hampered by stop-start policy, said Dr. Matthew Trewhella, managing director at heat pump manufacturer and installer Kensa Contracting. The main subsidy available to the sector has been the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), which was introduced in 2011, but only really started having an impact after some changes were made in 2018, he said. Emma Pinchbeck, chief executive of Energy U.K., agreed. “Heat pumps are an electric product, and when combined with efficient buildings and smart technologies, consumers can adjust how they use them and be rewarded for doing so, if it helps manage the wider electricity system,” she said in an email. “There have to be methodologies on the grid to use variable renewable energy when available, and use it less when it’s not available,” said Dr Howard Porter, chief executive of BEAMA, in an interview. “At the parliamentary hearing, Energy U.K., the Energy Networks Association and I were all agreed that this was vital.” The concept of using heat pumps to balance the grid is currently being piloted in Oxford. The three-year, £41 million Energy Superhub Oxford (ESO) project aims to prove a model for large-scale heat and transport decarbonization using heat pumps, energy storage and smart controls. The first phase of the project will see 60 homes owned by social housing provider Stonewater being retrofitted with ground source heat pumps connected to a communal ground array, and integrated with time-of-use tariffs and heat optimization software. Smart controls will optimize heat production and automatically “load shift” for grid stabilization, cost and carbon savings. Energy demands from electric vehicles are also load shifted and synchronized with electricity availability, price and carbon intensity. The final element of the project is large batteries charging and discharging to stabilize the grid and earn money based on the differential price of electricity.
GTM 9th Dec 2020 read more »