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B&ES heat strategy response warms debate

B&ES has released its consultation response on the Future of Heating - a strategic framework for low carbon heat for the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Ahead of a round table discussion with DECC later this month, the response document highlights a number of areas of concern to the Association and suggests how to tackle them to get the most out of the Green Deal.
The Association has identified an over reliance on low/zero carbon generation in the grid allowing the electrification of heating to deliver low/zero carbon solutions, and agrees with the analysis of the problem and the importance of heat in terms of energy demand and carbon emissions. On top of this B&ES has also raised three additional areas of concern for consideration:

1. There is insufficient action required to reduce heat loads through energy reduction, suggesting it is better not to use it than generate it in the first place.
2. There is significant evidence to suggest than low carbon/renewables generation almost encourages the belief that energy reductions are not important such as in a recent report in Building magazine on School Buildings - Post Occupation Evaluation, which clearly indicates this trend.
3. There is increasing uncertainty around UK energy policy, such as the future of nuclear and CCS?

The response document from the Association sets out the work B&ES has undertaken on behalf of members and the industry in order to improve the situation for contractors working in this area. B&ES is currently drafting a Guide to Good Practice for Heat Metering (which will be available free to members) from the 18 July, to tackle installation and calibration to ensure the RHI scheme is not undermined by poorly installed metering.

The Association is also working to tackle some of the associated problems by writing a System Integrator Guide about how to integrate renewable energy systems into heating systems to ensure that they meet specification. This will be published in the summer and a copy sent to DECC.

As part of its response, the Association has also voiced its support of the Royal Academy of Engineering Heat: degrees of comfort report and the Energy Savings Trust Getting warmer a field trial of heat pumps on heat pump installations which indicates some of the issues around the electrification of heating to be considered.

The B&ES response illustrates the concerns of the Association regarding joined up planning and implementation. Stating: 'A truly coordinated integrated strategy for heat would be beneficial. There are currently no clear guidelines for designers and developers to make intelligent long-term decisions about the type of heating to specify. Where is the link between de-carbonisation of the network, Feed in Tariffs, Renewable Heat Incentive and CRC EES for example?

'The current economic climate leads to short-term decision-making and this is not aided by uncertainty about government policy following recent changes to FiTs. The lack of commitment to Green Deal by our members is reflected in this uncertainty.'

Another of the key issues to the selection of a particular technology is the lack of truly impartial analysis of performance. B&ES is concerned that manufacturers claims regarding COPs, that appear good in lab testing bare little scrutiny in the field. The consultation response reads: 'A circle of self deceit develops around projects where all parties, including the client, know that a particular technology is not delivering the performance promised but all parties are more concerned about embellishing their green credentials than reporting on failures of installations.'

B&ES agrees that the importance of managing heat demand is key. The existing housing stock is probably an even more significant challenge however as the level of new house builds has significantly reduced since 2008. The Association supports the CIBSE approach to managing heat demand in buildings and is keen to highlight that the importance of suitable controls cannot be over stressed.

The official response from the Association puts it plainly, stating that the difficulty of the task ahead cannot be over estimated. 'Householders do not wake up in the morning and ask themselves how much energy can they save today?'

The Green Deal is a very good mechanism to drive a programme of energy upgrades but has a number of serious flaws in the detail;

1. Customer demand - what would induce a householder to take up the scheme? The cost and an uncertainty around a debt/loan against their most valuable asset is likely to discourage many.

2. The disruption this work will cause to their lives probably outweighs the benefits, whilst energy prices, although rising, remain a relatively small proportion of disposable income.

B&ES will shortly be taking part in a round table discussion with the Department of Energy & Climate Change to put forward the views of its members and to help give expert advice on areas of the implementation of the Green Deal.

The first round table meeting will consider how a SME-led Green Deal model could be delivered by the industry. It will also appraise the best means for effective two-way communications with SME trades so as to help them get involved in the Green Deal. The Association will take part in the debate to put forward the experience and knowledge of the SME landscape to help to shape how the model would work in practice.

Follow HVROnlineEditor on Twitter
12 June 2012

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