Posts

Heat and Buildings Strategy Unveiled

The Government’s commitment to decarbonising the UK’s electricity system was confirmed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng last night with the announcement of the Heat and Buildings Strategy, a “plan to move to clean energy and a carbon-neutral economy.”

The key points announced intend to drive down the cost of low carbon heating technologies like heat pumps, and invest in working with industry to ensure that in future they are no more expensive to buy and run than fossil fuel boilers. Of the £3.9 billion of new funding to decarbonise heat and buildings, £450 million would be funnelled into a domestic Boiler Upgrade Scheme launching in April to help fund the installation of heat pumps for domestic heating.

£1.4 Billion For Public Sector Heating

The remaining funds will be invested over the coming three years through the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, the Home Upgrade Grant scheme, and the Heat Networks Transformation Programme and for reducing carbon emissions from public buildings through the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme which will be allocated £1.425 billion.

The plan accepts that there will need to be a mix of new, low-carbon heating responses for different property types in different parts of the country – such as electric heat pumps, heat networks and potentially hydrogen. With funding intended to ensure all new heating systems installed in UK homes from 2035 to be low carbon. As previously observed, though, the replacement of a gas boiler with a ‘Hydrogen ready’ appliance would not be in breach of this ‘no new gas boilers’ after 2035 stance. Additionally, gas generation continues to play a critical role in keeping the UK electricity system secure and stable, the development of clean energy technologies intends that it be used less frequently in the future.

The statement from Prime Minister Boris Johnson concludes, “The Heat and Buildings Strategy sets out how we are taking ‘no-regrets’ action now, particularly on heat pumps, whilst supporting ongoing trials and other research and innovation on our future heating systems, including on hydrogen. We will make a decision on the potential role for hydrogen in heating buildings by 2026, by learning from our Hydrogen Village pilot. Heat pump technology will play a key role in all scenarios, so for those who want to install them now, we are supporting them to do so.”

A Luke Warm Reaction?

This much-delayed Heat and Buildings Strategy announcement should be a rallying call to kick-start Britain’s new heat pump industry, and the Government’s continued policy to address carbon emissions is to be applauded. However, the scale of investment appears to fall far short of the numbers typically cited to start to really move the needle when it comes to reducing national carbon emission levels. It also ignores the potential complexity and additional costs surrounding the installation of heat pumps into existing buildings. There also remains considerable question marks over how funding will apply to the commercial sector and for other low carbon systems such as solar thermal. Low cost, low carbon heating for homes is a strong political message, but this sector still only accounts for 15% of the UK’s harmful emissions (Source: BEIS 2019 UK greenhouse gas emissions). Business still accounts for 17% of emissions, with transport and energy supply generating 48%.

The launch of the Heat Network Efficiency Scheme (HNES) demonstrator programme aims to increase the provision of heating services provided to businesses, but as the Government states, “There will be no single policy or technology that cuts carbon emissions to virtually zero, but a diverse mix of technology, such as heat pumps and potentially heating appliances fuelled by hydrogen, alongside green projects like heat networks, that will combine to decarbonise heat in buildings over the next three decades.”

Greater clarity from the Government regarding its position on support for improving hot water and heating systems within non-public sector commercial buildings, therefore, remains elusive. For small to medium enterprises in particular this remains a considerable barrier to introducing low carbon alternatives prior to 2030.

Adveco can help navigate the move to lower-carbon technology for commercial hot water and heating. Talk to us today. 

Bespoke Hot Water and Heating, Celebrating 50 Years Of Excellence

For the past 50 years, Adveco Ltd has been the recognizable face of A.O. Smith in the UK. As with so many businesses, it started with a simple idea from founder Daniel O’Sullivan to improve efficiency and save costs, two core ideals that remain at the heart of everything the business still does today. In 1971, the focus was to support the launderette industry by introducing a simple hot water application that utilized a glass-lined boiler and galvanized hot water storage tank. This unique approach helped to define the early days of the business and created a new market and new demands. The company was later recognised by BSRIA as the instigator of direct gas-fired water heaters in the UK. Today, the company is one of the trusted specialist providers of low-carbon, bespoke hot water and heating to the building services industry.

The first ever UK installed A.O. Smith glass line boiler

Adveco operates across the commercial built environment, working with consultants, specifiers, and designers, providing informed support and partnership to design and deliver systems optimised to be highly efficient and cost-effective. Contractors gain a single, versatile, specialist sales resource that ensures delivery of the most cost-effective system. Facility managers are supported through product remote monitoring, technical support, warranty, and maintenance service to ensure system longevity and help realise a low total cost of ownership.

As a result, our systems can be found across the country, from prestige city sites to university and school accommodations, hospitals and care homes, supermarkets, sports stadia, hotels, restaurants and leisure facilities of all sizes. It is pretty much guaranteed you will have used bespoke hot water and heating from a system Adveco has designed, supplied, and maintains without ever realising it.

50 Years of Bespoke Hot Water Innovation

Daniel O’Sullivan and the sales team inspect the latest models from A.O.Smith

Founded as Advance Services (Sales) Ltd, that initial year defined much of the history of the business with a close partnership formed with the American based water heater manufacturer A.O. Smith. The company would quickly become A.O. Smith’s sole UK distributor, even though it had elsewhere opted for a multi-distributor approach. Here it had become clear that the success in the UK had stemmed from working with a focused single market entity, and the partnership was further ratified in 1998 when Advanced Services Sales Ltd became A.O. Smith’s sole official partner and under its new agreement started trading as A.O. Smith Water Products, and then latterly as A.O. Smith Water Heaters (Adveco AWP) Ltd.

Although Daniel retired in 2000, his son David O’Sullivan continued to grow the family business, maintaining its fierce independence and commitment to innovation. More than just offering distributions services, A.O. Smith Water Heaters had grown a wider reputation for its own in-house engineering capabilities, providing a wealth of knowledge for commercial hot water application design and post-installation service.

In 2015, Adveco Ltd. was established to further develop this capability, as well as providing complementary products to enhance the company’s offering. Operating as an independent sister company to A.O. Smith Water Heaters, Adveco has expanded in recent years, establishing European sales offices and continues its commitment to the design, supply, commissioning and full after-sales support and maintenance servicing, of more than 1,000 commercial boiler, hot water, and solar thermal systems every year.

More recently A.O. Smith has returned to its original multi-distributor model, although its own brand product ranges remain with Adveco / A.O. Smith Water Heaters in the UK. This process has given impetus to the modernization of the business. Though continuing to provide a full range of commercial gas and electric water heaters, boilers, and solar thermal systems from the A.O. Smith portfolio, Adveco is evolving to become a single point of contact for a wider range of commercial bespoke hot water and heating systems that address a market being redefined by the drive to sustainability and the target of Net Zero by 2050.

RP MD Boilers.

MD Floor Standing Boiler

We continue to see increasing demand for near-instantaneous and instantaneous water heating across a variety of projects and are constantly exploring ways to meet this often technical challenge for commercial applications. Within those hot water applications, the highly efficient A.O. Smith BFC Cyclone and Innovo are always a popular choice for commercial projects requiring hot water. The MD range of floor standing condensing gas boilers, which were highly commended in the HVR Awards on launch, have also proved to be very popular for commercial heating, boasting a seven-year parts and maintenance warranty which we are able to offer due to the strong, corrosion-resistant titanium steel construction and smart balancing of the pre-stacked heat exchangers.

Despite the hyperbole, gas remains, at least for the time being, a core element for commercial systems. Familiar, well understood and extremely cost-effective, it remains an important part of the product portfolio for delivery of domestic hot water (DHW) applications and heating.  Adveco’s DHW offering has extended with a range of new stainless steel condensing water heaters to address soft water areas in the UK, alongside a range of stainless-steel cylinders, packaged plate heat exchangers and electric immersion kits which enables greater use of clean electricity for primary and backup heating of water across a range of bespoke tanks. Although we would characterize ourselves as hot water specialists, we can still address the specialist needs of commercial-scale heating with our ranges of floor-standing and wall-hung gas boilers (MD), carbon steel heating buffers (MSS) and thermal storage (MST).

A More Sustainable Future

RP Solar thermal.

Adveco solar thermal with drainback technology

Perhaps most exciting, has been the work to develop systems that are capable of better integrating low carbon and renewable technologies. In 2009, Adveco committed to development in this space with the introduction of its first Solar Thermal systems, working in partnership to develop critical drainback technologies that addressed the massively costly issue of stagnating solar fluid in panels and pipework. There is no doubt in our minds that as the demands for lower carbon applications grow, a combination of Solar Thermal and traditional gas will see a resurgence. But there is a degree of complexity that needs to be recognised and that is where specialist knowledge pays dividends when investing in both new and refurbished properties. Solar Thermal also has a role to play in more advanced hybrid systems that will be more dependent on electricity, the use of heat pumps and heat recovery technologies.

FPi32 commercial Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP).

FPi32 Air Source Heat Pump

In recent years, Adveco has struck several exclusive manufacturing partnerships to develop air source heat pump (ASHP) technology and products expressly for the generation of preheat for DHW systems. This is necessary to address both building regulations in the UK and our varied Northern European climate.  The fruits of those partnerships have been the launch of the FPi range of Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP) in 2019, quickly followed by the introduction of the L70 heat pump for larger-scale projects. This year the FPi Range was completely revised with the introduction of a new system based on the more environmentally friendly R32 refrigerant which delivers considerable advances over its predecessors. This development programme continues at pace as we hone designs that help meet the high-temperature demands of commercial DHW. Our development work also includes the creation of the HVR Awards recognised HR001 boxed heat recovery system which was designed and manufactured in-house to support businesses making regular daily use of commercial-grade chiller and freezer units. Commercial systems offer a range of opportunities for heat recovery, essentially gaining ‘free heat’ that can be used to offset energy demands and help reduce carbon emissions from daily operations. Adding heat recovery into your sustainability mix is frankly a no brainer and we continue to explore opportunities for its application within commercial systems.

Packaged Plant Rooms.

Low carbon hot water systems in an Adveco Packaged Plant Room

Bringing all these varied elements together is Adveco’s packaged plant room offering, a bespoke hot water and heating system build that leverages all the advantages of offsite construction. Pre-fabrication is a tried and tested way of bringing mechanical and electrical systems to a live construction site, countering the challenges of complexity, limited space, limited time, and the need to work around other contractors. The concerns over post-Brexit/Covid rising costs, construction projects struggling to attain raw materials as well as a shortfall of experience on-site cannot be discounted. Offsite construction is therefore a great way to address these potential fears.  It just makes things on site much easier and crucially helps to accelerates those all-important project timelines which in turn can help offset other unforeseen project costs.

Packaged plant rooms can almost be treated as a microcosm of our work, a large proportion of which we create as bespoke applications and that includes our smart control systems. So, for Adveco, almost all our projects begin with application design. Without doubt, the rapid changes to legislation relating to efficiency and emissions as we move towards Net Zero by 2050 is having far-reaching implications for our industry. The challenge, certainly for commercial buildings, is to design, supply and then monitor a system for its full lifecycle to ensure the various elements of a system work together, not against each other. The problem is that we are increasingly seeing more cases of the wrong technology being used for the right application: from oversizing for the building, or failure to account for summer heating loads, to under-sizing solar buffer vessels and poorly executed combinations of renewables. Poor sizing has always been a key failure, driving up CAPEX and unnecessarily raising OPEX, but these more varied system design errors must be seen as a result of the rush to be environmentally friendly compounded by the confusion over what that really means in terms of practical technology choices. As an HVAC business, you simply cannot stand still, customers won’t allow for that, so being versatile in the ability to deliver bespoke, engineered systems, is becoming even more of an advantage for us as we look at the changing needs of customers, both in the short and long term. Our application design team provide professional support throughout all stages of a project, from selecting the pertinent product to meet a specific demand to complete system design.  All projects are meticulously sized by our in-house team of qualified industry professionals. This ensures that all applications receive a bespoke, cost-effective design that avoids the typical pitfalls described.

Looking Forward

All eyes are now on the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) and an expectation of greater clarity from the Government over how the commercial sector will be supported on the road to Net Zero. At Adveco, our approach is to be prepared for all options, whether the future of commercial heating and hot water in the UK will be designated all-electric, hydrogen/green gas, or a mix of the two. This continues to drive our exploration of new technologies and reiterates the advantages of being independent. It enables us to create these critical technical partnerships that allow us to be quick on the uptake of new, or more relevant technologies, whilst continuing to leverage our own deep technical experience. In the near term, we will be further developing our portfolio of heat pumps for commercial applications, as well as designing new hybrid systems that take best advantage of this and other technology. We also see the huge, and cost-effective potential for the large scale roll-out of hydrogen to the commercial sector. All this will require a greater demand for complete system design of which we have deep experience providing bespoke hot water and heating. Ultimately, we come back to the earliest tenet of the company, an unbeatable focus on commercial hot water systems. We already have a strong offering, whether gas and solar, or all-electric with heat pumps, and see this consultancy work, especially for D&B contractors, driving our future growth out beyond 2050.

Building Regulations for Commercial Hot Water

Committed to raising the energy performance of buildings, the government has now concluded the second of a two-stage consultation on the Building Regulations (Conservation of fuel and power) for England & Wales. This consultation proposes changes to Part L to provide a pathway to highly efficient non-domestic buildings which are zero carbon ready, better for the environment and fit for the future.

These new standards are due to be released in 2025 but will drive interim measures over the next four years for non-domestic buildings as outlined in the Building Regulations: Approved Documents L and F.

These measures outline the expected move away from fossil fuels to low carbon technology for heating and domestic hot water (DHW) and set a more rapid timeline. There is no doubt these new measures will ultimately represent a seismic shift in thinking when it comes to commercial hot water and heating applications, but a buffer has been built in to allow for the development of systems that are necessarily more complex than would be seen in domestic settings. This brings considerable opportunities for developers and specifiers willing to consider both existing and new technologies in order to deliver compliant applications in the next five years.

Whilst a fabric first approach is encouraged, low carbon technologies are being emphasised. This means heat pumps for the broad majority of DHW applications where there is a low heat demand. For commercial properties where there is typically a high heat demand, gas is still allowed while the industry works to develop suitable alternatives.

Hot Water Systems Under Part L For Non-Domestic Buildings

For our current purposes, while we will focus our attention on the provision of DHW for new build non-residential projects. Before we cover that, it is worth noting some of the general requirements for the wider heating systems as these must still be adhered to as part of the overall thermal efficiency of a DHW system.

Each new fixed building service, whether in a new or existing building, must meet the legislated values set out for efficiency. Replacement fixed services must be at least as efficient, either using the same or a different fuel as the service being replaced with matching or preferably better seasonal efficiency.

If moving over to a new fuel system, such as oil or LPG to natural gas, it should not produce more CO2 emissions nor more primary energy per kWh of heat than the appliance being replaced. If ageing renewables such as wind or solar are being replaced the electrical output must be at least that of the original installation, except where it can be demonstrated that a smaller system would be more appropriate or effective. And if work extends or provides new fixed building services energy meters will need to be installed.

When specifying a DHW system, sizing should be based on the anticipated demand of the building (based on BS EN 12831-3). The regulations demand systems not be “significantly oversized,” but we would argue any oversizing will have a negative impact on the efficiency and operational costs of a DHW system. So accurate sizing is critical in terms of delivering an optimal thermal efficiency assessment. That assessment will include the heat generator and any integral storage vessel but will exclude all secondary pipework, fans, pumps, diverter valves, solenoids, actuator and supplementary storage vessels from the calculations.

As a guide the minimum thermal efficiencies for natural gas-based DHW systems, based on gross seasonal efficiency of the heat generator are:

91% Direct fired for a new building with >30kW output*
91% Direct fired for a new building with <30kW output*
91% Boiler efficiency for indirect-fired systems in new & existing buildings
100% assumed Electrically heated new & existing buildings

Adveco carries of range of direct-fired condensing glass-lined water heaters such as the AO Smith BFC Cyclone (97% efficient) and Innovo (98% efficient), as well as an expanding range of stainless steel boilers and water heaters, such as the MD/AD which leverage advanced burner control to drive efficiency even higher (106%). This helps guarantee regulations are met and provides a safety net should regulations tighten in the future.

As with the broader regulations relating to space heating, controls form a necessary element of the new Part L regulations for combustion heated DHW systems. These all must incorporate timer control (independent of space heating circuits) and electronic temperature control.

Additionally, regulations call for fully pumped circulation where compatible with the heat generator for primary hot water circuits. Automatic thermostatic control to shut off the burner/primary heat supply when the desired water temperature is reached, and primary flow if the system temperature is too high for all direct-fired circulator systems, direct-fired storage systems and indirect-fired systems. Direct-fired continuous flow systems should include a heat exchanger flow sensor to control outlet temperatures and detect insufficient flow with burner/heat input shut off. A high limit thermostat is also required to shut off the primary flow if the system temperature is too high.

Point-of-use, local and centralised domestic hot water systems should have automatic thermostatic control to interrupt the electrical supply when the setpoint storage temperature is reached or system temperature gets too high. If there is an over-temperature trip manual reset should be possible.

Local and centralised DHW systems should have both a 7-day time control and the facility to boost the temperature by using an immersion heater in the cylinder.

Instantaneous water heaters should include a flow sensor to control the rate of flow through the heat exchanger. If the sensor detects insufficient flow, it should shut off the electrical input. Plus, a high limit thermostat is required to shut off the primary flow if the system temperature is too high.

Alongside gas, solar thermal is likely to be applied in the notional building unless heat pumps meet 100% of the actual building’s demand. Solar has been used in calculations in the past to overcome the poor fabric performance of a building. But, given the broad majority of heat pumps are currently used for preheat on commercial DHW applications, at most offsetting 70% of the energy demanded, solar thermal has a valid role to play and it’s a proven sustainable technology. Our expectations are for commercial DHW systems to continue in a familiar manner for the near to mid-term, with gas appliances used to provide cost-effective supply, especially during grid peak hours. Heat pumps and/or solar thermal will be deployed to provide preheat to that system.  As efficiencies improve and higher water temperature (more than 60°C) are achieved through heat pumps we see gas appliances slowly being phased out unless they can be replaced with green gas (hydrogen) alternatives. This naturally leads to the provisioning of hybrid systems for the coming decade, optimising a mix of current technologies that address the latest regulations, reduce emissions and crucially deliver value for money with lower operational costs.

One final observation on the implication for the specification and installation of commercial DHW relates to completion requirements. Part L tightens the commissioning requirements to reduce the gaps in performance over design and is intended to deliver improved project handover with accurate energy usage predictions. As a result, we can expect to see revisions of commissioning processes across the industry to help streamline delivery and speed up handover, crucial if government roll-out targets for low carbon technologies to achieve Net Zero by 2050 are to be met and superseded by commercial organisations.

Sources

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/building-regulations-approved-documents-l-f-and-overheating-consultation-version

* Product standard BS EN 15502-2-1:2012 for gas-fired boilers and appliances of a nominal heat input not exceeding 1000 kW / BS EN 89 gas-fired storage water heaters for the production of DHW

Will Hydrogen be the move we need towards Net Zero?

With emissions difficult to fully eliminate from certain parts of the economy, most experts agree that green Hydrogen is essential to meeting the goals of Net Zero by 2050. Urging the Government to publish its Hydrogen Strategy sooner rather than later, it has confirmed support of the crossover in a domestic setting but is yet to announce a defined strategy for the commercial industries. So, will the UK turn to Hydrogen use everywhere?

What are Blue and Green Hydrogen?

Blue Hydrogen:

is when natural gas is split into hydrogen and carbon dioxide (CO2) with the use of either Auto Thermal Reforming (ATR) or Steam Methane Reforming (SMR).  The CO2 is captured and then stored, reducing emissions into the atmosphere reducing environmental impacts on the planet.

Green Hydrogen:

Is hydrogen fuel that is created with the use of renewable energy in place of fossil fuels. It has potential for manufacturing, transportation and much more, with clean power and water the only by-product.

The advantages of switching to Blue and Green Hydrogen

Hydrogen has many advantages as it is abundant and supply is near limitless. It can be used on site of production and/or hydrogen is capable of being transported elsewhere if required. The environmental advantages of hydrogen are it contains almost three times the energy of fossil fuel use, therefore less will be needed to do the equivalent work.

Another advantage is hydrogen, unlike current methods, can be produced from excess renewable energies, and wherever there is water and electricity to generate more electricity or heat, for longer periods of time, in much larger quantities.

The disadvantages of switching to Blue and Green Hydrogen

Highly flammable in concentration and light compared to other fuels, as with other commonly used fuels, such as natural gas and propane, Hydrogen needs to be handled with caution. Hydrogen’s lightness does mean that it will disperse quickly into the atmosphere should there be a leak, reducing the danger of ignition. This is particularly important if hydrogen is to be transported via the existing gas infrastructure. Hydrogen moves differently from natural gas and is more likely to escape from older pipework than natural gas, so there will be concerns over the safety of a network seen to be leaking hydrogen.

In addition, the capturing process will increase the methane and propane burden so hydrogen production may not be as environmentally friendly as many may be lead to believe as

Environmentalists opposing the switch to Hydrogen

Environmentalists have openly been warning the Government to ignore the “hype” of Hydrogen to provide heat within the UK. As the Government pushes for its’ Net Zero goal, proposed plans suggest for new natural gas boilers (domestic) to be phased out in the foreseeable future and replaced with Hydrogen-ready alternatives. But environmentalists are pushing for electrical heat pumps to be endorsed over Hydrogen, which they believe is not environmentally benign.

Hydrogen for commercial use

With around half of the UK’s energy consumption being used for heating and contributing towards a third of greenhouse gas emissions, reducing carbon from the heating and hot water industry supply is a key issue for the UK to meet the plans set out for Net Zero by 2050.

Hydrogen has seen lots of traction over the years as a replacement for fossil-based gasses, converting the existing gas infrastructure to be used with Hydrogen low carbon alternatives in the UK.

One of the biggest difficulties to overcome with the crossover to Hydrogen will be the sheer scale of installation of the new appliances within current buildings. However, there are clear advantages of using existing familiar infrastructure, reducing the need for extensive remedial works that would be seen with an electric-only alternative. Other than the boiler/water heater replacement, pipework, tanks, and heating emitters such as radiators would remain unchanged. This helps avoid major issues caused by the limitations of existing space and accessibility.

Our take…

What is clear, is that hydrogen is not going to be the holy grail of zero-carbon heating for commercial projects. The simple truth is that it would be currently impractical to switch the gas grid to 100% hydrogen for zero-carbon heat, despite the existence of the extensive natural gas grid in the UK.

Producing bulk hydrogen from renewable electricity is also still expensive, and any produced by ‘surplus’ renewable electricity is not expected to meet the scale of demand. The production of low carbon hydrogen at scale will rely on using imported natural gas and deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) to offer a cost-effective route to produce lower volumes of hydrogen. Even when using CCS, it is important to realise hydrogen from fossil fuels will not be zero-carbon.

But, in terms of cost-effectively reducing emissions from energy use to a very low level by 2050, producing hydrogen via a low carbon route and storing it at scale makes it a potentially valuable complement to electrification.

With the practical provision of Hydrogen still some years away for the majority of the UK, Adveco, with its’ broad experience in gas and electric water heating, plus low carbon and renewable alternatives is perfectly placed to consult on short-, mid- and long-term options for your commercial projects, whether new build or refurbishment.

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.

Call us on +44 (0) 1252 551540 or complete the contact us form.

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.

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 six fold 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.

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.


Adveco, helping you achieve Net Zero with low carbon emission commercial hot water and heating systems.If you’d like to discuss how you can work towards net zero with low carbon emissions hot water systems and heating systems using renewables and commercial Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP), then speak to Adveco.

Call us on 01252 551 540 or fill in the contact form.

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 hot water 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.

Call Adveco on +44 (0) 1252 551540 or complete the contact form.

 

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 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.