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Bridging the Gap to NetZero – Part 2

Hybrid Heating – the validity of gas in future hot water applications

In part one we looked at why you might adopt a hybrid approach to commercial hot water and heating as a route to achieving Net Zero in commercial properties. In this second part, we consider the continued validity of employing existing gas technology… 

There continues to be a call for a wide ban on the deployment of gas boilers in new properties, with a date of 2025 often mooted. Such a ban, though focussed currently only on domestic properties, would no doubt have repercussions for the commercial sector if/and when it comes to pass.  But it is worth noting that ‘hydrogen-ready’ appliances would be exempt from any broad ban, so gas has a role to play in that mix of technologies driving us forward to Net Zero.

According to Mission Innovation (MI), an independent clean-tech research programme, half of the global emissions reductions required to achieve climate targets by 2050 depends on technology that still currently remain at a demonstration or prototype phase. Whilst development continues into the provision of new fuels such as green hydrogen – and we could be looking at at least a decade before this is universally available –  there remain clear cases, especially in terms of reducing running costs,  for retaining existing gas technology for commercial applications. We also recognise that the retention of existing infrastructure is critical for the cost-effective deployment of long term next-generation green technology, especially considering the large scale challenge of retrofitting existing properties.

Since 2015 the wholesale price of electricity has climbed 20%, yet gas prices over the same period are down on average 15%.  The difference between the wholesale market price of electricity and its cost of production using natural gas provides us with the spark spread.

Commercial Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP).At the time of writing, the spark spread is calculated to be 5.7.  For a heat pump to break even against a 90% efficient gas boiler, the heat pump must demonstrate a COP of 5.15. The Adveco FPI32-6 can exceed this COP, but only at warmer ambient temperatures. Far more realistic is to use seasonal COP, which at 5.15 is beyond the capability of most current generation units. When assessing the efficiency of commercial air source heat pump (ASHP) technology, we calculate the ratio between the electricity invested in order to run the ASHP and its output, this is the COP. The COP can be influenced by a number of factors including the energy needs and energy efficiency of a property, quality of hot water and heating system installation, and once operational, the energy manager’s competency in maximising the system output. We would expect high performing commercial heat pumps to show a COP that range from 2.9 to a very high 4.7 due to variance in seasonal external temperature and heating flow temperature. The average ASHP system will typically exhibit a maximum COP much lower than the necessary 5.15. It is also worth considering that the latest generation of commercial gas boilers will exhibit even greater efficiencies, for example, RP MD Boilers.Adveco’s MD boiler range can achieve a NET combustion efficiency of 106%. This means gas has a key role to play in ensuring a hybrid approach remains cost-effective.

As we progress forward, hydrogen-ready commercial gas appliances (boilers and water heaters) will leverage high efficiency, economic fuel blends with the additional advantage of considerably diminishing the carbon impact of commercial properties.

We see hydrogen playing a valuable role in meeting the needs for heating the UK’s commercial buildings but it will never be a 100% solution. This is why gas appliances in combination with heat pumps remain the best, and most cost-effective to deploy and operate method for commercial organisations to decarbonise operations and drive a low carbon economy.

Whether or not ongoing Government consultation decides to recognise the importance of ‘hybrids’ with financial support, the simple truth is that for the broad majority of commercial organisations looking to refurbish, capital investment and operational costs for heating and cooling systems are a critical decision factor. Hybrid systems offer the best option now and in the longer term as new green gas options come into play

The Hybrid Balancing Act

To truly reap the rewards of a hybrid heating system its energy management system needs to be implemented as part of the smart grid, with flexible electricity tariffs. When electricity volumes increase, prices fall. In a smart grid, when the corresponding price signal reaches the hybrid heating system it will be able to optimise the use of renewable electricity in terms of cost and availability.

In view of the extremely high volatility of renewable energy sources (RES) electricity, there will inevitably be peaks in supply above demand for electricity. In particular, this naturally occurs at high levels of wind and solar radiation. At present, an excess supply of RES electricity is either decommissioned at production peaks or sold. In extreme cases, as has been seen in the Netherlands, this could lead to negative electricity prices. To counteract this uneconomic development, it is necessary to introduce flexible electricity prices and pass them on to customers in order to stimulate production-dependent consumption. If there are high quantities of renewable energy in the grid, a heat pump will supply the building with heating and hot water. In cold phases, the heat pump covers only a part of the necessary heat output in the case of a hybrid system with the condensing gas boiler taking over to cover the remaining heat requirement and, if necessary, provides a higher system temperature.

This load management, the smart balancing of heat pump and condensing boiler operation, not only addresses the lifetime cost of operating a system it can help with the support of grid capacity (with fiscal remuneration if selling electricity generated), stabilisation of reserve capacities and potentially reduce the need for grid expansion.

The ability to provide greater efficiencies through smart metering and the use of flexible electricity tariffs to reduce operational costs for a lower total cost of ownership across the lifespan of the system is advantageous. The opportunity to impact load management across the grid however is a real game-changer for businesses being held up as a major guilty party when it comes to the continued generation of greenhouse gasses. Hybrid systems, therefore, offer a fast, cost-effective and realistic means to address ageing and environmentally unfriendly heating systems.


Discover more about renewable technology from AdvecoAdveco - bridging the gap to Net Zero with gas in hybrid hot water systems.

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Bridging The Gap To Net Zero – Part 1

Hybrid Heating – A Practical Response For The Commercial Built Environment

Adveco looks at the changing face of commercial hot water & heating, and the increasing importance being placed on the development of hybrid applications to address the real-world challenges of achieving carbon reduction levels set by the government through to 2050.

Around 40% of UK greenhouse gas emissions are accounted for by heating, cooling, ventilation, the provision of hot water and lighting the built environment, and, according to 2019 figures issued by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), business remains the third-largest emitter at 17%. In order to achieve climate-neutral building stock by 2050 commercial organisations need support from the industry to provide immediate and practical measures.

Through the expansion of wind power and photovoltaic systems, the generation of electricity from renewables and the importance of electricity in the heating market is increasing, but natural gas still dominates. As attention shifts to a mix of district heating, heat pumps, wind and solar energy, studies show that over the next two decades renewable electricity will be crucial to the energy supply in the heating market.

That said, there remain strong differences with regard to the expected share of renewable energy supply. Independent research clearly argues for a multi-dimensional approach with an energy mix consisting of renewable energy and gaseous fuels with a high share of renewable energies. Studies that are more “almost all-electric” argue in favour of almost complete dominance of the heat pump, while the technology-open scenarios also predict large proportions of heat pumps, but also assume the use of gaseous fuels.

Just as electricity is becoming greener, via an ever-increasing share of renewable energy, so too over time will the gaseous fuels such as ‘green’ hydrogen gas and synthetics.

Why Take The Hybrid Route?

So, let’s consider the advantages of the hybrid approach. This, at the most basic for heating systems, consist of two heat generators, of which at least one is operated with renewable energies and one with fossil fuel. Often, a hybrid heat pump system consists of a heat pump (air source) designed for a system part load (baseload) and a gas condensing boiler for peak load, for example during the cold, dark winter months. In a fully hybrid heat pump system, both heat generators can cover the entire heating load, where the energy sources can be freely selected according to definable criteria including efficiency, emissions and price.

Commercial Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP).

Compared to a conventional combustion heating system though, there will be issues of logistics and space requirements, but as hybrid systems are particularly relevant to buildings in which there is already a gas connection this is generally less of a concern. That said, a hybrid system will require two heat generators and two energy connections, one of which is an environmental heat source. This leads to higher complexity of the plant, requiring more effort and expertise from the system designer, supplier and installer. This all leads to higher CAPEX cost. It is typically estimated that the purchase and installation of a hybrid heating system compared to a pure condensing heating system is going to drive initial costs up by approximately 50 to 60%. So, what are the advantages that outweigh these initial costs?

For older commercial properties where a new heating system is required, but wider renovation is either not feasible or required, a hybrid system can control and avoid issues of project congestion when refurbishing, as the heat pump is used to supplement the pre-existing fossil-based heating system.  This helps to save costs as existing boilers can continue to be operated on the currently installed heat distribution, heat transfer and flue systems while the heat pump can benefit from an advantageous coefficient of performance (COP) in the right conditions and setpoints.

A hybrid heat pump/gas boiler system is able to reduce the maximum power consumption of a system by smartly balancing the heat generators for greater efficiencies and lower operational costs whilst guaranteeing high system temperatures to ensure the comfort of those still living or working in the building during refurbishment work. If the hybrid system is also equipped with a buffer tank and domestic hot water (DHW) tank the heat pump can achieve a high proportion of cover for space heating and DHW heating increasing the profitability of the system.

A hybrid heating system cannot only be controlled cost-effectively but it can also be optimised for CO emissions by selecting the optimal (ecological) heat generator whenever possible via an energy management system that incorporates smart metering.

Hybrid systems for commercial properties will typically be planned according to individual project requirements. In cold phases, the heat pump in the hybrid system can only take over part of the heating load due to the design. If necessary, the condensing boiler, especially on cold, dark days with high demand, but a limited supply of renewable energy, completely covers the heating load.

This versatility enables the energy manager to react to price fluctuations, especially in the power grid and possibly also in the gas grid.

Should the building envelope subsequently be renovated, the required heating load decreases and the existing gas boiler can take on less of the annual heating work or eventually could be put out of operation.

In part 2 we consider the continuity of using gas for future hot water applications

A Global Roadmap to Net Zero

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has published a global roadmap with more than 400 milestones, spanning all sectors and technologies – for what needs to happen, and when, to transform the global economy from one dominated by fossil fuels into one powered predominantly by renewable energy, such as solar and wind, to realistically achieve Net Zero by 2050.

Despite the current gap between rhetoric and reality on emissions, the IEA roadmap shows that; “there are still pathways to reach net zero by 2050. The one on which we focus is – in our analysis – the most technically feasible, cost‐effective and socially acceptable. Even so, that pathway remains narrow and extremely challenging, requiring all stakeholders – governments, businesses, investors and citizens – to take action this year and every year after so that the goal does not slip out of reach.”

To keep the world safe, scientists say that global heating has to be limited to 1.5C by the end of this century. To keep close to that mark, emissions of warming gases need to drop by half by 2030, and essentially hit zero in 2050.

The IEA report, Net-Zero by 2050 A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector, envisions a global economy that is twice the size of today’s, with an additional two billion people but with an 8% drop in energy demand. This pathway, the report states, requires international co‐operation and “vast amounts of investment, innovation, policy design and implementation, technology deployment, and infrastructure building.”

The plan sets to achieve this with no carbon offsets and a low reliance on technologies to remove carbon from the air. Achieving the rapid reduction in CO2 emissions over the next 30 years requires a broad range of policy approaches and technologies. The key pillars of decarbonisation of the global energy system are energy efficiency, behavioural changes, electrification, renewables, hydrogen and hydrogen‐based fuels, bioenergy and carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS).

Fig 1 Solar, wind and energy efficiency deliver around half of emissions reductions to 2030, while electrification, CCUS and hydrogen ramp up thereafter

The direct use of low‐emissions electricity in place of fossil fuels, with a complete removal of new supplies of coal, oil or gas, is one of the most important drivers of emissions reductions outlined in the report, accounting for around 20% of the total reduction achieved by 2050. Global electricity demand more than doubles between 2020 and 2050, with the largest absolute rise in electricity use in end‐use sectors taking place in industry, which registers an increase of more than 11 000 TWh between 2020 and 2050. Much of this is due to the increasing use of electricity for low‐ and medium‐temperature heat.

As part of this electrification process, and with gas or oil heating currently a major source of carbon emissions in many countries, the IEA is calling for no new fossil fuel boilers to be sold, except where they are compatible with hydrogen. This is not the first time this has been mooted in the drive towards Net Zero, one that has already been questioned by the building industry in terms of bringing enough hydrogen ready product to market, and more critically securing trained installers to fit new builds. What the report does not clarify, in the drive to emphasise efficient buildings, is how the building sector can realistically address retrofitting old existing infrastructure. For the commercial sector, this is a major issue and one that Adveco is taking the lead on, developing hybrid applications to bridge the old to the new, and developing brand new technologies that drive sustainability of larger-scale hot water and heating systems. With a strong history of developing bespoke applications and a technology-agnostic approach, Adveco is well-positioned to support commercial organisations struggling to adapt to new demands for sustainability within new and existing buildings.

To meet the need for greener energy systems where all of the world’s electricity would be emissions-free by 2040, and to expand electricity provision to the 785 million people in the world who have no access at present, requires an enormous undertaking, quadrupling the current levels of wind and solar installations. The scale of the change proposed is unprecedented, Fatih Birol, the IEA Executive Director said, “The scale and speed of the efforts demanded by this critical and formidable goal – our best chance of tackling climate change and limiting global warming to 1.5C – make this perhaps the greatest challenge humankind has ever faced.”

The report has already faced some criticism due to the reliance on CCUS which remains an unproven technology, and bioenergy which would require a 60% increase in production. To meet this demand would require a 25% increase in plantations of energy crops and forestry to make liquid fuel or be burnt to generate electricity.

The IEA does, however, see a strong opportunity for hydrogen and hydrogen-based fuels. Demand increases almost sixfold to 530 Mt in 2050, of which half is used in heavy industry (mainly steel and chemicals production) and in the transport sector; 30% is converted into other hydrogen‐based fuels, mainly ammonia for shipping and electricity generation, synthetic kerosene for aviation and synthetic methane blended into gas networks; and 17% is used in gas‐fired power plants to balance increasing electricity generation from solar PV and wind and to provide seasonal storage. Overall, hydrogen‐based fuels account for 13% of global final energy demand in 2050, with hydrogen production almost entirely based on low‐carbon technologies: water electrolysis accounts for more than 60% of global production, and natural gas in combination with CCUS for almost 40%

Hydrogen production jumps sixfold by 2050, driven by water electrolysis and natural gas with CCUS, to meet rising demand in shipping, road transport and heavy industry

With the energy sector, according to the IEA, being responsible for around 75% of the emissions of greenhouse gases that are driving up global temperatures, limiting global heating to 1.5C by the end of this century, means emissions of warming gases need to drop by half by 2030 if they are to hit zero by 2050. The IEA warns that the greatest threat to limiting global heating is weak international co-operation, which after the mid-2030s would see the pace of emissions reductions worldwide slow markedly, delaying a global transition to net-zero by decades. This throws additional weight on those nations attending COP26, in Glasgow this November, to form major agreements on policy and co-operation.

Navigating Regulations & Application Design for Commercial Hot Water Systems

There are huge expectations placed on building services engineers and sustainability consultants to be experts on the regulations for the built environment and the ever-developing technologies employed to meet them. The most important systems and features of the building, such as its fabric, power, heating and cooling systems are well understood and can be confidently dealt with when specifying and delivering a project. Designs including non-traditional and secondary systems are where engineers can be at a disadvantage due to the vast amount of changing information that they need to know. These systems can include domestic hot water (DHW), renewables plus the control of them, and gas appliance flueing.

These secondary systems on commercial projects are therefore a perfect opportunity to lean on more specialist application design services so that consultants can place their focus on the mainline elements of a building project. At Adveco, we have supplied specialist design support for the past 50 years, ensuring typically bespoke applications meet regulatory demands and best practice to sensibly manage capital expenditure while ensuring system longevity for better operational life.

In recent years we have come to recognise three prime ways that specialist application design becomes truly advantageous to a commercial building project. The first is in supporting mechanical and public health engineers deliver comprehensive and highly efficient DHW systems. The second is aiding sustainability consultants in the integration of renewables. The third is in helping engineers and D&B contractors to address the complex regulations surrounding the installation of flues for gas-based systems.

With DHW applications the primary issues are always going to relate to correct sizing based on the demands generated by a building’s occupants and choice of system. These can be based on application, energy source, suitability, and integration with carbon saving technologies,

Oversizing DHW systems inherently come from a lack of understanding of hot water demands within the building, diversity, and length of the peak period. Oversizing is exacerbated by the false belief that the building uses more hot water than it really does, and an attitude of ‘better too much than not enough’. Sizing programmes, often employed for a quick sizing early in the design then never reviewed, do not deal well with the many variables and decisions on diversity leading them to oversize to prevent hot water problems. Traditionally the problems with oversizing, such as increased standing losses, increased outlay costs, increased pipe sizes, and increased space use may have been minor in terms of the cost of the whole building, but it now has another important knock-on effect. If the hot water consumption is overinflated, it falsely increases the expectation of the building’s carbon emissions. This then requires greater employment of renewables to reduce emissions which do not actually occur. This can come at great cost and complication and provide little benefit to the building. Access to realistic sizing tools and having the experience to interpret results requires both expertise and time, which specialist application design can bring to a project.

The integration of renewables, such as commercial air source heat pumps (ASHP), heat recovery and solar thermal, will further increase the complexity of a system. Renewable technologies are going to be selected early in the design process to secure the Part L approval, once modelled successfully it is not wise to start changing things too severely. Small changes, such as revising the manufacturer of an appliance is going to make little difference within Part L, but if you have to add, remove and replace a technology, then you are going to be back at the beginning, and will almost certainly need to resubmit your Part L calculations. These early selection decisions increasingly reside with the sustainability consultant before the design engineer is involved, which means they need a broad knowledge of building services systems beyond the renewables themselves. Working together with specialist application design means they can better advise on selecting the right type of renewable to ensure it will integrate with the rest of the system and be controlled to work with traditional technologies. It is very important that renewable heat sources, particularly those that provide low-grade heat, are not held off by traditional boiler systems providing high-grade heat to high-temperature systems. This is not purely a controls issue but one that requires an in-depth understanding of the complete system arrangement to set it up effectively.

Finally, a regulatory issue that continues to impact consultants, engineers and D&B contractors has been the change to flue and gas standards.

IGEM/UP10 Edition 4 is an Institute of Gas Engineers and Managers utilisation procedure which attempts to address two major points of confusion: safe horizontal termination and the definition of a group of appliances. Adveco applies this document in all relevant plant room design since limits on horizontal termination through a wall terminal at low level is clearly important from a safety perspective. Many designers and installers remain unsure how to apply it correctly which can have a major impact on commissioning if the termination is not found to meet the current regulations.

Under UP/10, groups of terminals are defined by a mathematical formula which sets a corresponding dimension. Terminals that are within the calculated dimension of each other are k,89a group regardless of type or location. A group of terminals with an input over 70kW (net) that terminate horizontally must now be tested against a risk assessment provided within UP/10; this could therefore include terminals from appliances with outputs below 70 kW that previously would not have been considered if their terminals conformed to BS5440. The IGEM procedure will potentially allow up to 333kW (net) to be exhausted at low level if it is deemed risk free (such as a windowless wall looking over open fields) but will not allow 70kW to be exhausted at low level if deemed unsafe (such as an internal corner, or adjacent to openable windows, walkways, or a playground). Despite holding British Standard (BS) equivalency and being published for more than five years, UP/10 remains underused in the early design phase where it should be used to determine when flues must terminate at high level so that they can be included in the installation budget.

Faced with an ever-widening range of technology and regulations, access to a specialist design for these secondary systems is an extremely useful asset, one that can be both an independent sounding board and an extension of the in-house design function. That saves valuable time, delivers a better project specification and helps avoid problems that can halt final commissioning of a system, delaying or even preventing a building’s final handover to the new resident.


Enquire about sizing your projectNavigating Regulations & Application Design for Commercial Hot Water Systems.

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UK Needs to Cut Emissions by 78% by 2035 to Meet Net-zero

Under the original Climate Change Act, the UK pledged to cut net emissions by 80% by 2050. Now, it will need to deliver a 78% reduction by 2035 if it is to meet its long-term net-zero commitment. That is according to the Climate Change Committee (CCC), which has published its Sixth Carbon Budget for the period between 2033 and 2037.

The CCC described the budget as the toughest yet with chief executive Chris Stark saying that the UK will need to decarbonise at a faster pace in the next 30 years if the net-zero target is to be met. Stark explained that the Committee has deliberately opted to ‘front-load’ decarbonisation – more will need to happen in the 2020s and the earlier half of the Sixth Carbon Budget period than in the latter half and the 2040s. Heat, and the broader decarbonisation of buildings, is one of the major priorities identified by the CCC which has based its calculations on a scenario in which 40% of the emissions reductions needed will be delivered using pure-technology solutions.

The new recommendations will see heat supply drastically transformed from its current reliance on natural gas if the country is to decarbonise all aspects of the UK’s infrastructure and economy. The budget has set a mandate for fossil fuel boiler installations to end across the UK entirely from 2033, with fossil fuels phased-out from heating in public buildings by 2025 and in commercial buildings by the following year. It added that these stricter targets to phase out higher-carbon technologies in public buildings would also support a government aim of realising a 50% reduction in emissions by 2032. The 2033 date has been set to take account of the typical 15-year turnover of boiler stock, while also allowing for the scaling-up of supply chains to deploy heat pumps at a mass scale.

The recommendations aim for 37 per cent of public and commercial heat demand to be met by lower-carbon sources as of 2030.  According to the CCC, heat pumps should cater for 65% of the predicted need, 32% of heat should be provided by district heating systems, whether low or high-temperature supply, with a further 3% from biomass by the end of the current decade. By 2050, CCC estimates that 52% of heat demand should be met by heat pumps, 42% from district heat, with hydrogen boilers covering the remaining 5% of national demand.

One caveat, however, was that since the dates operate alongside the deployment of low-carbon heat networks and planned regional rollouts of hydrogen conversion of the gas grid, the phase-out outlined may not apply in any areas designated for these alternatives. This makes a nod to a net-zero that derives balance between pure hydrogen systems and electrification, both delivering decarbonisation of heating. It also highlights the danger of supporting one technology and ignoring another when the pace of development is so much steeper and will continue to be so as we move towards 2050. To this end, the CCC is using what it describes as a ‘balanced pathway’ scenario upon which to base its calculations and that its delivery will require ‘systems change’ and a ‘whole economy approach’ to decisively meet the UK’s legal target of fully eliminating and offsetting carbon emissions by 2050.  Under this ‘decisive’ decarbonisation plan, the CCC has warned that a sizable majority of change must be made within 15 years.


Adveco.Talk to Adveco about how we can help you create more sustainable heating and hot water applications for your buildings.

Non-domestic RHI (Renewable Heat Incentive) gains 12–month extension with a scheme closure application deadline of 31st March 2021.

Non-domestic RHI Gains 12–month Extension

Originally set to finish at the end of March 2021, and in response to delays caused to building projects by COVID-19, the Government’s non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) has received a 12-month extension. In response to concerns raised by stakeholders that a significant number of existing projects would fail to meet the scheme closure application deadline of 31st March 2021, affected projects are now able to submit an extension application.

Those existing projects unable to commission and accredit to the scheme before the previous deadline now can extend these processes until 31 March 2022.

With increasing pressure to decarbonise in line with the Government’s ambitious net zero targets, the preservation of reliable and continued funding for the commercial sector is critical if organisations are to be further encouraged in the adoption of future-proof sustainable developments. With no clear, immediate replacement for the RHI, concerns had been raised regarding the lack of incentivisation for the commercial sector, as new schemes focussed on domestic installations. Given around 40% of UK greenhouse gas emissions are accounted for by heating, cooling, ventilation, the provision of hot water and lighting the built environment, and some 17% is generated by commercial building stock, it is clear that more help is required to drive the uptake of renewables and more sustainable systems if the UK is to achieve climate-neutral buildings by 2050.

Designed to provide financial incentives to increase the uptake of renewable heat by businesses, the public sector and non-profit organisations, the non-domestic RHI is currently applicable to air source heat pumps, such as the Adveco FPi range and L70, and solar thermal for commercial uses including large and small businesses, plus schools and hospitals. Administrated by Ofgem on behalf of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), tier one of the RHI incentivises non-domestic energy producers for either the life of the installation or 20 years as a maximum. If conditions are met, with equipment, including a generation meter, being installed by a microgeneration certification scheme (MCS) accredited installer, eligible businesses in England, Scotland and Wales will now continue to be paid for installations completed and commissioned before 2022.

Once successfully accredited, systems will receive quarterly payments per kilowatt-hour (kWth) of energy use, however, if metered as a multiple system, which includes either ASHP or solar thermal and a gas boiler, then payment is made purely for the heat generated by the heat pump or solar thermal aspect of the application.

The current 2020/21 (non-domestic) tariff are:

  • For new air source heat pumps – 2.79(p/kWh)*
  • For new solar thermal collectors less than 200kWth in size (tier 1) – 10.98(p/kWh)*

For specifiers and developers installing renewable heating systems on commercial buildings or small-to-medium-scale district heating projects, the extension also provides crucial financial support ahead of the Green Heat Network Scheme (GHNS) coming into force in April 2022.

*For more information on non-domestic RHI and the full conditions of eligibility, refer to the energy regulator Ofgem.

Making Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP) Work For Commercial Applications - Part 1

Making ASHP Work For Commercial Applications – Part 1

Understanding the Challenge of Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP)

Commercial organisations face a somewhat unfair challenge as they are held by the Government to be leaders in the move to control and reduce carbon to achieve net-zero by 2050, yet are limited by the technology options that the Government is showing active support for. The current drive, without a doubt is to push Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP) to the exclusion of other technologies. Neither high-efficiency gas boilers with ultra-low emissions nor proven sustainable systems such as solar thermal have received much love in the latest round of grants supporting the commercial sector. In particular, the decision not to provide support for those opting for hybrid solutions that bridge the technology gap in the most cost-effective manner shows a focus on the finish line, but a failure to grasp the actual challenges the commercial sector faces right now. So, what are the options with ASHPs, and what is a realistic path to take today?

Unfortunately, we cannot control the weather, but despite that, ASHP technology does still present an opportunity to significantly improve the efficiency of buildings across the commercial sector. Because an Air Source Heat Pump is reliant on the ambient air, the Coefficient of Performance, or COP, is going to be affected by both the source and supply temperatures. The heat provided is at a much lower temperature, so a heating system will be required to operate at low temperature for optimum efficiency and may have to be kept on for a longer period to be fully effective. Such a system could well require a significant upgrade to a building’s electrical supply and heating infrastructure. However, to maximise the ASHP efficiency, the lowest possible flow temperature needs to be achieved, and that requires a building to be highly efficient in terms of heat loss. When working with new builds, the ability to drive high efficiency in the thermal performance of the fabric of a structure means a well-designed commercial heat pump system is more than capable of providing all the heating needs for a business and, in the long term, represent good value for money in savings from reduced energy bills, as well as helping commercial premises bring down that all-important carbon footprint.

But in isolation, this demand for low heating temperatures and low water usage will be impractical for many businesses, especially when retrofitting a property, which can highlight the limitations of ‘pure’ ASHP systems. This becomes particularly obvious when ASHP is to be deployed for the provision of hot water, especially if there is a large daily demand. Domestically we would expect a minimum storage temperature of 50oC, but this rises to 60oC minimum for commercial environments. This has a considerable impact on the ASHP’s running efficiency and therefore the running costs. Additionally, by generating hot water at 50oC and not 70oC, the storage volume will have to be considerably larger than that associated with a typical gas boiler. To achieve necessary water temperatures requires greater considerations of space planning and type of hot water cylinder the system will require.

With early to market performance of heat pumps falling below expectations, and a higher capital cost relative to the conventional gas boiler alternative the uptake of ASHP in commercial business on the gas grid had, until the drive to achieve net-zero, been limited. Now commercial operations are actively seeking to use ASHP, but are still running up against these same issues, which is why, with the current capabilities of ASHP technology, a hybrid approach for commercial applications remains attractive. Both in terms of installation and operation, whilst still gaining the all-important running cost savings and reduced carbon emissions.

In part 2 we explore how a hybrid approach can deliver significant value from ASHP technology

Read about Adveco’s compact commercial FPi ASHP range

Planning Change Ushers In Restaurant Refurbishment Challenge.

Planning Change Ushers In Restaurant Refurbishment Challenge

From the beginning of September 2020, changes to planning will see use classes A1 (shops), A2 (financial and professional services), A3 (restaurants) and B1 (offices) merged to create a new Class E. This will enable use of these spaces to be altered from one use to another or undergo change to multi-use venue without seeking consent from local authorities.

The simplification of planning creates several fascinating new opportunities. For pop-up and permanent restaurants, the opportunity is clear, especially for restaurant chains that have specialised in refurbishing existing High Street buildings. That said, the impact of COVID-19 on the restaurant sector cannot be discounted, so it remains to be seen how the demand for new restaurants in city centres will play out. There is strong evidence to suggest that ‘stay at home’ workers are now looking for more local venues to eat out, instead of opting for city centre locations which typically would have been a popular destination for commuting workers. This has the potential for rapid development of restaurants in more suburban locales where available properties have typically been former pubs. Pubs themselves remain exempt from these planning changes, and should a restaurant utilise one of these new spaces then it will require permission from local authorities to operate takeaways or to sell alcohol from the premises. Other locations could adopt a multi-use model, shifting from business space in the day to restaurant in the evening, or operating a full time mixed-business usage within a larger building.

These changes are seen as a key opportunity to revitalise the High Street, but the one thing we know well at Adveco is the potential complexity, and therefore hidden cost, of refurbishing a property when the site was not originally conceived as a restaurant. Landlords and new property owners need to recognise that heating and especially hot water are business critical functions, with suitable hot water storage needed to meet consistent and peak-hour demands. That water also must be supplied at a minimum of 60°C to ensure a hygienic cleaning of the environment, utensils and provide handwashing for both staff and customers.

Adveco has 50 years of experience delivering commercial heating and hot water refurbishment projects. We will size the needs of the premises, design a bespoke application, and supply the necessary system components, and ensure it is commissioned for use and serviced to manufacturer’s quality as part of the warranty.  You can discover more about our recent work refurbishing systems in listed buildings and our work for Five Guys revitalising building hot water systems throughout the UK. In all these cases, our customers are not only securing modern, highly efficient fit-for-purpose heating and hot water systems, they are also reducing their costs and either better controlling their carbon emissions or excising them with renewables for a more sustainable workplace.

SSI 1500 Stainless Steel Indirect

Is a Calorifier Right for My Project?

A calorifier is a commercial-grade indirect-fired water heater that provides hot water in a heating and hot water system.

It is designed for projects requiring large volume storage of water at high temperature, but rather than using a burner, the water is heated by heat exchanger coils containing liquid from another heat source, such as a boiler.

In a typical application, the hot water directly heated by a gas or electric boiler passes through the calorifier and is used, via heat exchange, to heat up the cold water in a separate system of pipework. This does mean that a calorifier cannot react as quickly to demand as a direct-fired water heater, however, with the calorifier working as a buffer and storing the hot water, it reduces the operational demand placed on the boiler. With the boiler no longer required to work as hard to meet the domestic hot water needs (DHW) of a building, energy is saved, costs are reduced and emissions fall.

With the increased efficiency of modern condensing gas boilers, having a dedicated hot water boiler to heat the calorifier is no longer a requirement as they can easily supply heat to both the calorifier and the heating system. The compact Adveco MD range of gas condensing boilers, for example,  are both high capacity and can be arranged in cascade to scale to provide both heating and, with an indirect calorifier, the DHW needs of a wide variety of commercial projects. It must be noted that when space heating is not required, such as during the summer months, the boiler will still be required to provide heat for the hot water system.

Another advantage of the indirect approach to heating is that due to the transferral of heat through the walls of the heat exchanger element the two fluids do not mix. This allows for more options in terms of the external heat supply and introduces a range of renewable technologies that use other fluids for heat transfer including solar thermal collectors and Air Source Heat Pumps. At Adveco, these options are supported by a variety of calorifiers. The Stainless Steel Indirect (SSI) range, for example, is supplied with a single high-output internal heat exchange coil at low level to serve as an indirect calorifier in DHW installations. For more complex and renewable-based systems, the Stainless Steel Twin-Coil (SST) range offers a pair of independent internal heat exchange coils to serve DHW systems. Each high-output coil can be used with a separate heat source, enabling effective integration of renewable technologies or multiple heat sources, or alternatively can be combined to increase the heat transfer capacity from a single high-output source.

Also, by separating the supplies you reduce the risks of external contamination, a build-up of scale in hard water areas or the corrosive effects of soft water.

Calorifiers are also simple to install. Since there is no burner, there is no need for the gas supply to be directly connected to the appliance and the is no requirement for a flue.

As with any hot water application, understanding the relationship between storage and recovery, and correct sizing is extremely important for efficient and cost-effective operation. Integrating a calorifier within a hot water system gives you a number of design options, as a larger calorifier means the boiler can be smaller, or the reverse if the existing system has a large efficient boiler. Understanding the hot water demand is critical. If demand is not so great, then using a larger calorifier can lead to unnecessary capital and ongoing operational expenditure. Go too small and the storage could prove inadequate and the system will not achieve its operational requirements.

Attaining the correct balance of demand and efficient, cost-effective supply is what ultimately defines a successful system, whether it be for a hotel, hospital, school, office or leisure facility. Each will have their own parameters to be met, and Adveco specialises in providing the widest range of calorifiers, boilers and renewables to meet the bespoke needs of any project.

The patterns of hot water usage and recognition of periods of peak demands often make sizing a complicated process, with many systems overcompensating and, by being oversized become more costly and less efficient. At its simplest, a commercial system should hold an hour of hot water output in storage, but the function of the building, its population and activities will adjust requirements, for example, where hospitals will typically exhibit a 24/7 demand for hot water, schools and offices may be limited to just 7½ hours per day. In some refurbishment scenarios, we will also see a physical limitation of space available for DHW storage, in which case a system will put more demand on the boiler or renewable to increase the output for preheating, reducing the required size of calorifier.

If there is an availability of space, or a prefabricated packaged plant room approach can be used to relocate plant to previously unused space – such as a rooftop or car park – there is an opportunity to incorporate multiple calorifiers and thereby divide the total storage demand. This approach not only provides system resilience, but for commercial sites that exhibit predictable seasonal demands such as leisure centres, campsites and hotels, it allows for elements of the system to be shut down during off-peak periods. The other real advantage of adopting a packaged plant room approach to a DHW system is that the boiler or ASHP providing the preheat can be located in close association with the calorifier. The physical proximity helps negate problems of heat loss between the boiler, pipework and calorifier which can be detrimental if more widely separated in a system.

Discover more about Adveco water heating and how we can help size your DHW application.

 

Adveco packaged plant room.

Packaged Plant Rooms – A New Paradigm for Site Safety

Adveco discusses how off-site construction techniques for commercial heating and hot water can alleviate pressures of cost and timescale on construction sites whilst also helping improve Covid-19 safety precautions…

There is no doubt that we are going to face long term changes in the way construction projects operate during and in the wake of the current Covid-19 pandemic. Worksites are already having to adhere to stricter policy on where and when workers can traverse and engage on-site, and, in accordance with Government recommendations, the responsibility for their safety lies squarely on the shoulders of the host – not only for incumbent staff but also for any visiting contractors or customers. Ultimately this is all to ensure anyone on site does not become compromised. This means further stretching the usually difficult, and therefore costly, co-ordination of equipment and controls installations required for a building. Such complexity is typical, for instance, when creating and installing modern heating and hot water applications.

New world, new approach

Adopting offsite pre-fabrication as part of your project is therefore highly advantageous, reducing time on site required of specialist contractors, which is both more cost-effective and safer for all involved.

Adveco combines deep engineering understanding with a wide prod­uct offering and experience in full system design to provide a single source of supply for the delivery of complete packaged plant rooms containing heating and hot water systems tailored precisely to fit the specific needs of a project.

All work is carried out in a controlled, purpose-made environment. This means should there be any forced downtime on-site due to a local lockdown, the assembly work at Adveco will continue as planned. With no distractions from other typical construction site activities or issue we can ensure your plant room work is more rapidly progressed and, with a controlled factory environment, optimal manufacturing conditions are provided for quality control. Unlike the general conditions found on a construction site.

Locating all production work offsite also means the plant room element of a project can also efficiently progress at the same time as other groundworks or site installations. As the plant room arrives with all appliances, controls and ancillaries pre-fitted and connected – using stainless steel (heating) or copper (DHW) crimp pipework – as standard, there is no need for extended plumbing and electrical installation. This helps drastically reduce on-site labour demands and allows for more rapid progression of project timescales, despite social distancing requirements.

To achieve the best results, you will need to finalise facets of decision-making relating to hot water, heating or cogeneration of power early on in the project to allow for increased lead-in times. Once production commences it becomes more difficult to accommodate changes to a bespoke pre-fabricated system. This is why Adveco’s expert design engineers will work closely from the start with your project team to accurately size and design a system that meets the exact needs of the project on day of delivery.  All that is required is for flues, external pipework and final electrical connections to be completed on-site.

Adveco has broad experience of developing small to very large packaged plant rooms, embracing a wide range of cost-effective to operate and renewable technologies, from high-efficiency gas and electric boilers and water heaters to heat recovery units, micro CHP, solar thermal and Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHPs). These are all brought together to deliver a wide range of bespoke applications that can transform the operational nature of a commercial property, reducing emissions and improving the efficiency of hot water and heating for lower ongoing costs. The fact that these systems can also be delivered in a manner that is also much safer for all involved on-site shows the tremendous advantages to be gained from this approach.

Discover more about Adveco’s Packaged Plant Rooms