Whilst large scale heat pumps have been commonplace in mainland Europe for over 60 years, in the UK gas boilers and CHP (Combined Heat & Power) plants have continued to be favoured ever since the advent from the North Sea of relatively cheap oil and gas. However, recent policy initiatives by the EU and UK government have now made the UK market attractive for their introduction; the benefits being:
1. Off gas grid, where a suitable energy source is available such as a river or lake, a large-scale heat pump is better financial value than the alternatives such as LPG or biomass. Even on gas grid, a large-scale heat pump can be better value than a gas CHP (which in turn will be better value than a gas boiler) but this needs to be assessed on a project by project basis.
2. A heat pump requires considerably less maintenance than a CHP plant – not least as it only has one moving part, the compressor pump.
3. A heat pump can take advantage of cheap off-peak electrical power to generate heat which can be stored in the form of hot water within the pipe network and/or water store, to be released when required.
1. Heat pumps produce zero on-site air emissions as they solely require power which typically is generated off-site. This is a key issue for an urban area as the Climate Change Act 2008 requires 80% reduction in air emissions from 1995 levels by 2050 with some authorities, such as the Greater London Assembly (GLA) and the Greater Manchester Combined Authorities, adopting policies in excess of these requirements. With the EU now fining Government for infringements of current requirements and Government in turn intending to pass such fines down to the relevant local authorities, the latter are now very keen to see the use of heat pumps to drive improvements in local air quality.
2. The electricity to drive a heat pump can be sourced solely from wind and solar PV through procurement from “green” power providers such as OVO and Good Energies, and so be 100% low carbon at typically no additional cost.
3. In addition, the Environment Agency (EA) welcomes WSHPs as they help to lower the temperature of surface water bodies. Due to climate change, the temperature of rivers and lakes is increasing, endangering ecology, and hence the EA is having to planting trees in key adjacent areas to provide shade.
There is also strong policy support from Government and the EU.