Heat pumps are identified as the most sensible renewable energy

Heat pumps will be the most sensible way of introducing renewable energy into existing buildings, according to the Government’s Renewable Advisory Board, set up to advise the Government on renewable energy and made up of representatives from the energy and renewables industries, consulting engineers and academics. The report ‘2020 vision’* examines ways that the target of 15% of total UK energy use can be drawn from renewable sources by 2020. Of that 15%, about a fifth of the renewable-energy input will come from buildings. The majority of that figure (two thirds) will be from homes, with retrofit installation in existing homes in the majority (2.2 million out of a total of 3.1 million). Heat pumps are seen as the system most likely to achieve the renewable savings required, with 70% of existing homes targeted for ground-source or air-source machines. The remaining 30% of renewables would come from micro wind (15%), solar hot water (10%) and solar PV(5%). The dominance of heat pumps in the mix is because they produce more energy, more cost effectively, than the other technologies. They are also the only proven active technology capable of delivering energy for heating and hot water, day in, day out — whatever the weather. Grant support under the CERT (Carbon Emissions Reduction Target) and LCBP (Low Carbon Buildings Programme) can reduce the capital cost of heat pumps by up to 80% to price levels comparable with, and sometimes even below, conventional boilers. Tony Barnes, sales director of Calorex, which has extensive experience of heat pumps for housing, says, ‘The RAB report adds the support of a wide group of professionals with great experience of renewables. We are gearing up for what needs to be a radical shift in heating technology, comparable to the move towards condensing boilers, to deliver the heat pumps and, importantly, bring installers and designers up to speed.’
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