Heating the Homes of the Future

Heating the Homes of the Future

PPC played a key role in constructing the primary District Heating Network at Swaffham Prior. The Money Box team at the BBC featured Swaffham in their ‘heating the homes of the future’ radio programme on January 1st, 2023. Listen now…

Money Box

Plans Unveiled To Support Widespread Heat Pump Installation

Plans Unveiled To Support Widespread Heat Pump Installation

Plans to provide £5,000 grants to enable people to install low carbon boiler replacements such as heat pumps have been unveiled, boosting the potential for more widespread district heating systems.

The plans, unveiled as part of the government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy, is part of a wider £3.9bn plan to decarbonise buildings and the ways in which they are heated and electrified.

Heat pumps are an efficient way of transferring heat from an external heat source into a room and vice versa, because they are flexible in the heat source they can take advantage of, are highly efficient and require relatively low-ambient heat sources.

They work by effectively compressing the heat that is taken from either the air, a geothermal source, a district heat network or even under a river, using electricity to do so efficiently.

These systems can often work in reverse, drawing excess heat from a room and returning it to a heat network, thus creating a cooling effect.

The system is considerably more efficient than using a natural gas boiler, which is the most common source of heating in the UK, and heat pumps can be considered carbon-neutral providing the electricity used to power them comes from carbon-neutral sources.

This is also the case for the other proposed boiler replacement system: hydrogen gas and a decision is set to be made on the use of hydrogen boilers as a potential way to reduce the carbon emissions generated by heating.

Whilst some heat network systems using heat pumps do exist in pockets of the UK, this grant aims to make them more widespread.

However, some groups have criticised the scheme for not going far enough, with the £5,000 grant funding only 90,000 pumps over the next three years, and currently not covering the full installation cost nor the improvements to insulation and glazing necessary to take full advantage.

District Heating Backed As Key Way To Curb Climate Change

District Heating Backed As Key Way To Curb Climate Change

The use of low-carbon energy sources in district heating systems is a vital part of reducing the world’s energy emissions, an industrial engineer has said.

Dave Pearson of Star Refrigeration, which is based in COP26 host city Glasgow, said as delegates prepare to visit the Scottish city that curbing heating and cooling emissions must be at the heart of any solutions that will enable global warming to be kept within the 1.5 degrees C level targeted in the Paris accord, PR Newswire reports.

Mr Pearson noted that heating and cooling account for 40 per cent of energy use and emit more greenhouse gases – and not just CO2 – than transport, agriculture or any other sector.

Advocating the use of large scale heat pumps, he said: “Heat pumps for district heating and industrial processes can deliver three times more heat energy than the electrical energy they consume.”

The use of such systems would not only reduce emissions, but would cut Britain’s reliance on fossil fuels such as natural gas, the reduced supply of which has been pushing up wholesale prices and hitting consumers with higher bills all over Europe as winter looms. 

One does not need to stray far from Glasgow to see a new district heating system in operation. In the neighbouring town of Clydebank, the system at the Queens Quay development recently won the Heat Pump City of the Year prize in the European Heat Pump Awards.

Officially known as the West Dunbartonshire Energy Centre, the development at the former John Brown Shipyard is the first use of a water source heat pump in Scotland.

Convener of West Dunbartonshire Council’s infrastructure, regeneration and economic development committee Councillor Iain McLaren said: “I am proud that West Dunbartonshire is using this natural resource to provide energy,” adding that this was not just helping to meet net zero carbon targets, but benefitting residents and reducing fuel poverty.  

Decarbonising heating and cooling integral to reaching net zero targets, says Glasgow industrial engineering leader (yahoo.com)

Renewable energy district heating scheme in Clydebank officially opens (yahoo.com)

Ground-breaking Scottish district heating project wins European Heat Pump City of the Year Award (yahoo.com)

Groundbreaking District Heating Project Wins Major European Award

Groundbreaking District Heating Project Wins Major European Award

A Clydebank district heating scheme has been awarded a prestigious European Heat Pump City of The Year Award, an award that recognises the smartest, most efficient, and most sustainable heat pump projects across the continent.

The Queens Quay scheme was recognised with this award as a result of its sheer scale and ambition, as it is the UK’s first industrial water source heat pump and the largest water-source heat pump project in the UK.

Constructed as part of a £250m regeneration project in the area, the heat exchange project was designed to provide hot water and low-carbon energy to 1200 new residential and business buildings in the area.

It works by using two 2.65 megawatt heat pumps to harness the ambient heat of the River Clyde and increase it to up to 80 degrees Celcius, delivering it via a 2.5km network of piping.

In Europe, the system is relatively common but has not been deployed at scale in the UK, with many district heat systems using waste heat from combined heat and power plants or geothermal sources instead.

The success of this scheme highlights the massive part heat networks will play in decarbonising the heating and energy industry.

How Does A Water Source Heat Pump Work?

There is a lot of natural, ambient heat around, even if it can sometimes be imperceptible. There is heat in the ground and underwater.

Using a series of submerged flexible pipes containing a working fluid mixture, a heat pump pushes working fluid through the piping, which in turn absorbs the heat of the surrounding water.

Then, using an electric compressor, the fluid mixture is compressed which increases the temperature efficiently. Once the fluid is at the right temperature, a heat exchanger siphons the heat for use in heating up water before the fluid is pumped back through the pipework again.

As underwater heat sources are often more efficient and more consistent than ground sources, the heat transfer rate is higher, meaning less energy is required to get the temperature a resident wants.

As well as this, so long as the water source used is constantly moving, such as a river, that heat is constantly being replaced, making the system more sustainable and constant regardless of weather or environmental conditions.

They can be easier to install as well than ground source heat pumps, as there is no need for boreholes and trenches to be dug nearby. Instead, the necessary network of piping is simply laid in the body of water and has little impact on the aesthetic appearance of the river or body of water.

The one limitation of the system regards the availability of a suitable body of water. If you live in a city near a large river or flowing canal, this is unlikely to be an issue, but lacks, ponds and standing water sources can be more problematic.

The reason for this is that when the heat pump transfers heat from the water to the working fluid mixture, it lowers the temperature of the water, which is fine in deep and flowing water but can cause a water source to freeze if it is not deep enough.

Vattenfall To Create District Heating For London Homes

Vattenfall To Create District Heating For London Homes

Swedish energy company Vattenfall has announced that it is planning a district heating network that will supply homes in London with low- and zero-carbon heat from solid waste plants.

Edie reports that Vattenfall, which already operates district heating schemes in Berlin and Amsterdam amongst other European cities, said that its network could eventually help to provide heat to half a million homes in the east of London.

The Swedish, state-owned company has partnered with London-based waste management company Cory Energy, which has plans to develop a district heating network system in Belvedere in the south-east of the capital.

This project was awarded £12 million from the UK’s Heat Networks Investment Project (HNIP) and is set to start on site in early 2022 with the aim of supplying the first homes by 2024. 

Vattenfall hopes to be servicing 75,000 homes by the 2030s, and into half a million homes and businesses by the 2040s.

The company has highlighted that heating is responsible for a third of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions and that 25 million homes use fossil fuels to keep warm.

Vattenfall says its heat network could reduce emissions by up to 90 per cent compared with individual gas boilers. It estimates that over a 20-year period, the network could save 26 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

Mike Reynolds, managing director at Vattenfall Heat UK said: “We’ve got to think big when it comes to removing emissions from heating, on a scale that works for global cities like London. District heating presents the best option for consumers in urban areas. It’s the cheapest source of low-carbon heat, it’s reliable and it’s resilient against energy shocks.”

If you’re looking for a district heating UK contractor, talk to us today.

Next Phase Of Liverpool Low-Carbon Energy Network Receives Council Approval

Next Phase Of Liverpool Low-Carbon Energy Network Receives Council Approval

A major district heating project for the centre of Liverpool has received approval to enter its next phase, which will provide hot water and heat for up to 9,000 homes once completed in 2023.

The plans, undertaken by Mersey Heat and approved by Liverpool City Council, involve the laying of 1.5km of underground piping between Central Dock and Clarence Dock that will link to the Future Energy Centre between Great Howard Street and Sherwood Street.

This next step of Liverpool’s ambitious heat network plan is part of the Liverpool Waters sustainability plan, to not only transform the city’s northern docks but to do so in a way that reduces heating bills and carbon emissions.

According to the contractors, the heat network could save up to 4,200 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year, for a total saving of 168,000 tonnes over the network’s planned lifecycle of 40 years.

As well as the sustainability benefits, there are practical benefits for residents and office users, as they will no longer need to wait for their hot water taps nor their heating systems to warm up.

The nature of heat pump-based systems is that heating is provided immediately. Along with this, the service promises accurate metre readings, a 25-year warranty with 24/7 emergency repairs, a control system with free servicing every two years, and competitive prices for heating.

District heating and cooling systems have become an increasingly popular option to help reduce the carbon cost of energy, as by drawing energy as required from a central heating plant (often as a by-product of electricity generation, they can provide heating more efficiently.