Air: the latest source of sustainable energy
ONE of the country’s largest suppliers of heating and cooling equipment is calling for a radical change to the way we heat and cool our commercial and residential buildings.
The UK Living Environmental Systems Division (LES) of Mitsubishi Electric has produced a 10-point action plan which will contribute to the reduction of more than three million tonnes of CO2 emissions a year by 2016.
Much of the company's plans centre around the utilisation of untapped heat energy that exists in the air all around us, and the wider use of cool outside air to reduce the need for air conditioning.
Commercial director Donald Daw met with politicians at the House of Commons to launch the company's Green Gateway Initiative. The plan includes technological developments and new thinking combined with simple behavioural changes such as better maintenance regimes or not using the thermostat as an on/off button. All of the initiatives are focused on creating a significant impact on CO2 reduction in the UK's buildings by reducing energy consumption and the energy bills of both consumers and businesses.
'One of the easiest ways of achieving a significant reduction in CO2 emissions would be through the greater use of heat pump technology which extracts free energy from the surrounding air,' explained Donald. 'The energy in the air that surrounds us is a key sustainable resource that doesn't currently factor into people's thinking.
'We need to focus on promoting heat pumps as they are a big solution to the global warming issues we all face today.This technology is already well known in the air conditioning market and is used for heating in countries such as France and Sweden.'
With a conventional gas boiler, one kilowatt of energy consumed by the boiler delivers less than one kilowatt of heat to a building. With a typical heat pump, 1kW of energy delivers a heat output in excess of 3kW - that's a 300% increase in energy efficiency - and that is set to grow as the technology develops.
As the UK's gas reserves decline, the economic and political future of importing gas from around the globe comes into sharp focus and our reliance upon fossil fuels continues to be questioned.
In the commercial sector, the company's most significant initiative calls for more promotion of the reduction in energy use that businesses can get from replacing older heating and cooling equipment.
'We estimate businesses will be saving nearly 500,000 tonnes of CO2 a year by 2016 if they are encouraged to phase out old cooling equipment and introduce modern technology quickly,' explained Donald. 'That's not only good for the environment but it will also make a big impact on the energy bills of individual companies.'
A copy of the Green Gateway Initiative report can be downloaded by visiting www.greengatewayinitiative.co.uk or www.mitsubishielectric.co.uk/aircon.
9 August 2007