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What will 2018 bring for green heating?

What will 2018 bring for green heating?

2017 was a year of firsts for the UK’s green energy sector, with a total of 13 renewable energy records being broken. We saw the first day nuclear, wind and solar generated more power than gas and oil, we saw the ‘greenest summer ever’ with over 50% of energy from low-carbon sources, and for the first time since the Industrial Revolution, the UK didn’t use coal power for 24 hours. To quote the WWF’s Gareth Redmond-King, “2017 has been an amazing year for renewable electricity in Britain…and we are on course for an even better year in 2018”.

So, can we expect a similarly positive trend from renewables in the green heating sector as in the electricity sector?

Green heating in 2018

In December 2017, the European Heat Pump Association announced that they’d just reached the 10 million mark of heat pumps installed across the continent. The sales of air source heat pumps in Europe are expected to further increase by up to 50% over the next 5 years.

A bit of an unknown to most of us in the UK, water, ground and air source heat pumps are highly efficient green heating technologies that use the ambient heat from their surroundings  to produce home heating and hot water. The question is why haven’t we seen heat pumps in the UK yet? Well, you might have seen one already – an air source heat pump looks almost identical to an air conditioner.

Large and small-scale applications of heat pumps are already cropping up throughout the UK. In the London borough of Enfield, 400 ground source heat pumps are to be retrofitted in 8 tower blocks, and the green heating upgrade is expected to reduce residents’ energy bills by 30–50%[1].

In Warwickshire, air source heat pumps are being used in the first super-efficient Passivhaus homes, and following the Norwegian example of district heating, a £3.5million project is already underway in Glasgow for an industrial sized water-source heat pump. The huge green heating system will extract heat via pipes running through the River Clyde, and is reported to provide the surrounding Gorbals area with cheap heating from as soon as September 2018.

So, it’s safe to say that these electric green heating machines are gradually gaining some traction. Unfortunately, we’re on the clock. Homeowners with green heating systems like heat pumps are eligible for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), which potentially allows UK homeowners to recoup all of the initial cost back for installing the heat pump. The RHI is set to run until 2021, but it’s unclear what – if anything – will be replacing it.

Given that roughly 45% of our oil and gas is imported from Europe, there’s also a lot of uncertainty around Brexit’s impact on oil and gas prices. This may also lead to an increase in ground source heat pump and air source heat pump sales, which in turn will bring heat pump prices down.

To conclude, it looks like green heating in 2018 will see the trend of increasing ground source heat pump and air source heat pump sales continue. Creating savings wherever possible is something that we in the UK have always been good at, and given 2017’s boom in solar and wind, it stands to reason that electrically powered green heating systems such as this are soon to follow suit.

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[1] Sourced from Heat Pumps Today

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