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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.


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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.

Space To Develop Hot Water & Heating

Space To Develop Hot Water & Heating

How relocating heating and hot water systems in commercial buildings can drive real value from underutilised space…

The most valuable asset any business or organisation has is space, space to grow, develop and drive advantage. Within the built environment the drive for more space is a balancing act between granting applicable and preferably comfortable space for those using the building and meeting the infrastructural and systemic needs of operating the building.

There typically has to be some kind of give in the drive for creating or freeing up useable space if that activity impacts on the necessary systems, in particular heating, cooling, lighting and water.

Hotels are a great example of this drive to reclaim usable space. The hospitality industry is one of the most competitive there is. Hotels are continually fighting with the competition to offer the most affordable rates, the best amenities, and the most outstanding guest services — all while also making a profit. The easiest way to charge more for a room is by adding space to it, or by adding more rooms in total. Either way that is going to help improve the bottom line. The same goes for restaurants, where maximising floor space means more tables. Whilst hoteliers and restaurateurs will look to every square centimetre of their properties for opportunities to maximise revenue, other organisations will have very different drivers. Consider schools, where larger class sizes have increasingly driven a demand for teaching space. How many schools have had to surrender playing fields to locate portacabin style classrooms which are obviously not ideal?

This brings us to the kinds of underutilised or wasted ‘dead’ space in and around buildings. Internal space is potentially incredibly valuable, so leveraging external space to free it up can be truly advantageous. The question is what can be given up to makes such gains? The simple answer might be your HVAC plant.

Plant rooms, or boiler houses as they were known, vary from purpose-built to jury-rigged spaces used to accommodate heating and hot water systems. Basements are typically repurposed in older commercial buildings, whilst it is not unusual to find them tucked in amongst other rooms creating a mixed-use setting. Wouldn’t it be advantageous to separate such building services and relocate them away from those using the building whilst improving the efficiency of the system for a host of benefits including lower operational costs and reduced emissions?

Simply upgrading to a new gas condensing boiler or electric water heater can deliver notable efficiency improvements over models from just 10 years ago, and today’s modern appliances pack that into much more compact, space-saving formats. So, you could gain greater capability from a smaller footprint in your plant room, and potentially reclaim a few square meters. But what if you could reclaim the entire plant room?

Refurbishing plant to a new location may sound drastic, but that needn’t be the case. Increasingly the construction industry has embraced the idea of offsite construction, creating modular units or systems that are pre-installed and ready for relatively quick and simple connection once delivered to a site. The process streamlines a construction programme along with offering numerous savings as site work is dramatically sped up. Now, this process can be as easily applied to refurbishment projects as it is to new build. All you need is an underutilised space. For many commercial buildings that means flat roofs, yards or car parks, spaces that are inexpensive to adapt, require low to no maintenance and have either been ignored or are underused.

With the proliferation of car ownership, it might at first seem unlikely that the car park is being underused. But the drive to encourage walking, cycling and car-sharing has had an impact, and developers who have previously pushed for more open parking space than ever before are now being challenged to repurpose some of that space. In terms of Identifying functional opportunities to better leverage this space, the siting of plant fits the bill. Turing over just one or two car spaces can have a dramatic impact on the capability of heating system, providing enough square meterage to easily accommodate a mid-sized packaged plant room offering, for example, a boiler cascade and heat exchanger assembly. Or the space could be used to locate Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP) that drive system sustainability whilst lowering CO2 emissions.

Relocation to flat rooftops is especially valuable. This is truly ‘dead space’ for most buildings, but it provides a broad opportunity to relocate heating and hot water plant safely and more securely. A simple crane lift is all it takes to locate a prefabricated plant room, and these can be of considerable size and complexity should the roof space be large enough to accommodate. Additionally, the space lends itself to locating hybrid systems that integrate renewable and sustainable technologies. We have already mentioned the use of ASHPs, and a rooftop placement not only typically supplies unimpeded airflow, the noise, though relatively low, now becomes almost unnoticeable to those on the ground.

Flat roofs are also perfect for the installation of solar thermal systems, where a framework is constructed to align the collectors for optimal energy collection. That energy is then transferred to the building’s water system. One of the biggest threats to the efficiency of a solar thermal system is the heat loss between the collector and hot water storage, which results from potentially long pipe runs from the roof to the plant room. By locating the plant room on the roof, pipe run is minimised as are thermal losses, so you get more energy for your investment.

These are just a few examples of where Adveco’s application design, system prefabrication and expertise in hybrid and renewable technology can help maximise underutilised space. Modern, high-efficiency systems deliver new versatility for addressing changing demands of the building whilst still reducing operational expenditure on energy and helping drive actual sustainability within an organisation.

If your business or organisation is looking to

Talk to us today or read more about our renewables and packaged plant room systems.

Time for Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP).

Time for a Switch to Air Source Heat Pumps

Heating and hot water account for around one-third of the UK’s carbon emissions, so it is not surprising that it continues to receive a considerable amount of scrutiny, especially from those in power.

In 2016, the UK along with the world’s other leading economies signed the Paris Climate Accord, committing to keep global warming under 2°C. As a result, and in order to meet the target, a series of objectives have been set, a crucial one being a commitment to become carbon neutral by 2050, as advised by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC).

The government is taking decarbonisation seriously and the switch to air source heat pumps  (ASHP) seems to be something they are eager to encourage, for both commercial and multiple occupancy residential properties.

Commercial heating – A Renewable Re-invention

In 2016, a study revealed the fact that 14% of carbon emissions can be attributed to industrial processes. This is in addition to the heating and hot water demands being met by the burning of fossil fuels.

With air source heat pumps offering very high efficiencies under the right conditions, retrofitting commercial properties will make a considerable dent in current emissions, helping that all-important carbon-neutral goal to be achieved on schedule.

Yet convincing commercial organisations to adopt something new is not always the easiest job. With upgrades comes a cost, but something so fundamental as hot water and heating offers a business case for it to gain sufficient support.

Additionally, there are many practical benefits to switching to high-efficiency heat pumps, reducing energy consumption means less CO₂ production and lower operational costs, and don’t forget your company gets all the kudos it deserves for going green.

With that said, here is a summary of all the potential advantages of your company adopting heat pumps:

#1 Reduce CO Output, Earn Green Kudos

Quitting your company’s sole reliance on a gas-based system can drastically cut your CO₂ emissions. Heat pumps produce heat without emitting any CO₂, and the small amount of energy required by a unit from the electric grid is increasingly becoming decarbonised. So, advertising the fact that your company working towards attaining net-zero is a brilliant way to show you are playing your part.

Many people do care intensely about the green agenda, so many people like to see the companies they use showing their support and decarbonising their operations, so advertising the fact that you have gone green is sure to impress.

#2 Reduce Operational Energy Costs

For many organisations, the energy bill can be a contentious issue. There is a struggle between keeping energy costs down, while at the same time, maintaining a working environment where staff and visitors feel warm and comfortable.

Under the right conditions, heat pumps offer an extremely efficient alternative for heating or providing hot water to a building. Heat pumps have a negligible demand for electricity and instead of burning carbon-rich fossil fuels to produce heat, using the principle of vapour compression, a heat pump utilises the heat that already exists in the environment. Escaping the reliance on fossil fuels means you are no longer at the mercy of unplanned for cost increases, allowing those resources to be directed to a more rewarding part of your business.

#3 Public Sector Decarbonisation Fund

For public sector organisations, the Governments new Public Sector Decarbonisation Fund is a £1b fund being made available now for the upgrade of public buildings and social housing to make them more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. As with all current Government decarbonisation initiatives, ASHPs are perceived to have a key role in attaining change that is rapidly required from both new build projects and more critically ageing building stock. The latter especially throw up a range of physical and technical challenges when it comes to adapting or upgrading to new, more efficient systems. Therefore, it is critical to speak to experts, such as Adveco, early on when it comes to scoping out a project and agreeing an application design which delivers on the criteria established under the Decarbonisation Fund.

#4 Adaptability

Heat pumps offer maximum versatility, being able to be installed into a variety of building types and sizes. For larger-scale commercial applications, the annual fluctuation in efficiency due to shifts in ambient temperature, and the peak and high-temperature demands of commercial domestic hot water (DHW) systems means hybrid approaches that combine ASHP with secondary heat sources (gas or electric) are most likely to be required. Despite the potential complexity, the versatility of the ASHP enables it to be integrated in a variety of ways that meet the typically bespoke requirements of such projects.

Whether you have a large single building, or several smaller buildings, a school or medical centre with a substantial heating or hot water needs, heat pumps can help meet the unique demands of the site.

#5 Minimal Upkeep 

Air source heat pumps which have been correctly specified to the regional climate will provide consistent operation absorbing heat from the air throughout the year. For the UK, Adveco will size units based on the Ecodesign Average European Temperature Scale, which sets a minimum reference design temperature of -10°C. This allows for the realistic calculations of Seasonal Coefficient of Performance (SCOP). That said, units will still efficiently operate down to -20°C, and many southern and western regions of the UK exhibit much warmer climate.

Despite continually operating at often sub-zero temperatures during the colder months, heat pumps require very little maintenance and, of course, there is no risk of carbon monoxide, CO₂ or NOₓ from the appliance. Smart, remote monitoring ensures any potential issues are quickly flagged and attended to, and if serviced regularly, a heat pump can easily last as long as 20 years

Time to Consider Changing to Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP)

Heat pumps are repeatedly cited in government documentation, so their adoption will no doubt be incentivised. Making the switch to ASHPs offers a variety of benefits for commercial enterprises and public sector organisations, meeting the obligations for sustainable investment and ‘greening the brand’, but it also helps your organisation to maximise its operational budget.

The commercial and public sectors are going to be a key part of the UK achieving its carbon-neutral goal by 2050. There has never been a better time to adopt the technology and reap the rewards of renewability.


Adveco: Time for a Switch to Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP).To request a meeting with Adveco to discuss your project call us on 01252 551 540 or use the form here.

This blog was co-authored with boilerbrain.

Funding Retrofit For Public Buildings.

Funding Retrofit for Public Buildings

The Government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Fund is a £1billion fund being made available now for the upgrade of public buildings and social housing to make them more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. Projects with a focus on decarbonisation of heating and hot water will undoubtedly be a priority when granting funds as, according to 2019 figures issued by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), heating, cooling, ventilating, and providing hot water and lighting for the built environment still generates 17% of greenhouse gas in the UK.

Part of a wider £3b plan to upgrade the UK’s buildings, the plan has been generally welcomed, as it is hoped to support up to 120,000 jobs across the construction sector, as well as boosting local investment through local job creation.

Designed to aid public sector organisations in England, including central government departments, agencies, local authorities, and especially schools and NHS Trusts. The plan’s intention is to improve buildings’ operational performance, reduce CO2 emissions, raise comfort levels for staff, plus reduce in building-related complaints and maintenance backlogs. This is to be achieved through the specification and installation of energy-efficient and low carbon heating measures.

However, the fund is only being made available for a single year, and since its announcement in July, has raised queries over whether government departments and local authorities have the time or resource to spend this effectively. Facility and energy managers responsible for public sector real estate should already be exploring their options for project design and delivery, not least because of the wider concerns over project timescales in the wake of Covid-19. It is, therefore, crucial to be scoping out retrofit projects as soon as possible.

At Adveco, we have almost 50 years’ experience supporting the refurbishment of public sector heating and hot water systems. While studies show that over the next two decades renewable energy sources (RES) – a mix of district heating, heat pumps, wind and solar energy – will be crucial to the energy supply in the heating market, we would lean towards more technology-open scenarios that not only predict large proportions of heat pumps but also assume the use of gaseous fuels. Just as electricity is becoming greener so too can the gaseous fuels which will contain larger shares of renewable ‘green’ hydrogen gas and other synthetic fuels by 2050. This supports the adoption of a hybrid approach that combines new and existing technologies, which we not only see as more practical but is both cost-effective and less influenced by the volatility of a RES electricity-only approach. The hybrid approach is especially valid when it comes to refurbishing old and inefficient systems, as well as extending viable systems where fresh demands outpace the original scope of the application.

From the latest high-efficiency, ultra-low emission condensing gas and water heaters to electric appliances, sustainable solar thermal and air source heat pumps, Adveco is deliberately positioned can support the introduction and integration of the latest technology. Typically, the latest generation of appliance not only is more efficient, but it can also offer a far more compact footprint, so makes refurbishment simpler, and without needing extensive building work to accommodate plant require less capital expenditure. If systems require scaling up to meet increased demands for heating and domestic hot water (DHW) then refurbishment can quickly become more complex, and if a hybrid system is employed, greater space may be required for the dual systems, as well as additional controls and pipework. Should the availability of space be an issue Adveco can design and build off-site prefabricated plant rooms that make full advantage of unused space, such as flat roofs, to expand capabilities.

If a hybrid heating system is chosen, it offers great advantages for cost-effective control, for example, 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. And, by selecting the optimal (ecological) heat generator whenever possible (via an energy management system) it can also be optimised for CO2 emissions. Should the building envelope be renovated, the required heating load decreases and the existing gas boiler can take on less of the annual heating work, and it could eventually be put out of operation.

An extra £50m will fund social housing through a demonstrator project for the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF). This UK-wide demonstrator scheme will see grants supplied to upgrade the energy efficiency of over 2,000 of the worst-performing social homes. Again, Adveco has a long heritage designing and delivering multi-occupancy applications for heating and DHW.

To secure climate-neutral building stock by 2050, public sector facility managers desperately need help to achieve practical and cost-effective sustainability. At Adveco we can help with a full-service application design team who can provide an assessment of your properties’ demands and correctly size an application. We can help recommend the optimum appliances to deliver highly efficient systems that provide the best value in terms of capital and operational expenditure, whilst meeting the need to reduce emissions. Our commissioning service also ensures installation is carried out correctly and the system is safe to operate, which then unlocks long-term manufacturer quality warranty service.

If you haven’t started to scope out your project, or need aid, please contact us today about your project.

Making ASHP Work For Commercial Applications – Part 2.

Making ASHP Work For Commercial Applications – Part 2

The Hybrid Approach

In part one, we considered the challenges and limitations of an Air Source Heat Pump (ASHP) only system, with particular focus on the problems commercial organisations faced when retrofitting existing properties with new heating and hot water applications. In this concluding part, we look at the advantages of adopting a hybrid system approach based on ASHP technology…

A hybrid approach where an ASHP is deployed in a packaged combination with a gas boiler and control system presents an attractive alternative, retaining the element of gas boiler technology that customers are comfortable with. Plus, it also offers better compatibility with existing heating distribution systems and thermal demands of higher heat loss buildings meaning less adaptation is required. There are also technical advantages, such as the ability to optimise heat pump efficiency and switching to the gas boiler at times of network peak.

The facility of two heat sources to meet the demands for space heating and/or hot water is especially relevant for the commercial sector where bespoke system design is often required to meet the particular needs of a project, such as applications with a high heat loss. In this case, the gas boiler can be operated to meet peak demands on the coldest days, allowing the heat pump to be reduced in size compared to the capacity of a pure electric heat pump system.

Installing a heat pump alongside an existing gas boiler, together with a control system also makes sense in retrofit installations, especially, in applications where a relatively new boiler has been installed, which should be highly efficient, and which can be retained for peak heating loads. The key challenge technically is to ensure that the control system for the ASHP and existing boiler operate together efficiently.

In such cases, given that the ASHP does not replace an existing heating system, the driver for installing the system is largely to reduce running costs and make quick gains towards improving environmental performance.

Hybrid systems based around an ASHP are likely to require some system refurbishment in many retrofit installations in order to ensure that a substantial proportion of the annual demand is met by the heat pump (though this is likely to be lower than a pure electric system). Even so, when including the cost of a gas boiler replacement, the cost of refurbishing heating systems for the installation of a hybrid system should be lower than in the case of a single heat pump system. This is due to the reduced heat pump capacity requirement since the boiler can provide higher flow temperatures to meet peak heat demands. When comparing the cost of a heating system refurbishment opting to install a hybrid system versus a ‘pure’ ASHP system a reduction in comparative costs of as much as 50% could be achieved (Source: Frontier Economics).

Once installed, levels of carbon savings are generally slightly higher when allowing for hybrid solutions – suggesting that up until 2030 hybrid solutions could be consistent with meeting carbon targets. Although the average cost-effectiveness of carbon abatement is somewhat lower than in the scenarios which exclude hybrids. These savings are estimated based on comparison with a standalone ASHP, assuming that a hybrid system will use a smaller heat pump with a capacity reduced by as much as one third. For a hybrid ASHP system, expectations will be for the heat pump to meet as much as 75% of the annual heat load, the remainder being met by a gas boiler. This delivers similar operating costs and comparable CO and CO₂ savings at current grid carbon intensity (the reduced heat pump coverage of the overall thermal demand can be compensated by the ability to run the heat pump at closer to optimum efficiency).

Whilst the long-term use of hybrid systems may be perceived as not fully consistent with meeting carbon targets and they can equally be limited by space requirements and noise issues that also affect standalone ASHP installation, there remains a strong argument for their use across the commercial sector.

In the long term, hybrid systems should fall behind pure electric systems in terms of carbon benefits as the grid decarbonises and may become less cost-effective if volumes of gas supplied for the heating drop. But looking out to 2050, innovations in the provision of hydrogen and green gas, using extant infrastructure which currently supports 85% of UK heating, means hybrid systems may prove to be a defining low carbon option. One that provides the means to support the very particular, practical needs of the commercial market with versatile, cost-effective systems, all without sacrificing the drive to lower emissions as part of the process of achieving net-zero.


Adveco.Read about Adveco’s compact commercial FPi ASHP range and prefabricated packaged systems for a hybrid approach.

For further information contact Adveco.

Now Is The Time To Agree A Low Carbon Obligation.

Now is the Time to Agree a Low Carbon Obligation

Hydrogen presents the UK with a clear opportunity to become one of the first nations to integrate this clean energy on a national scale, according to a recent All Part Parliamentary Group (APPG) report on the application of the gas. Produced primarily by electrolysis of water or by reforming methane, where the carbon dioxide generated can be captured and stored, hydrogen can be combusted in a way that produces no greenhouse gas emissions.

Jacob Young, MP, commented,

“The UK Government was the first world leader to boldly establish a 2050 net-zero carbon target, but our ambitions will be unachievable without embracing hydrogen as an alternative fuel. The longer we wait to develop our hydrogen strategy, the more difficult achieving net-zero becomes. We believe that hydrogen is the solution to decarbonisation.”

Amongst a list of recommendations, the report sets out several key requirements to establish a working timeline for the delivering of a hydrogen infrastructure that can enable the UK to achieve net-zero by 2050.

The first is to invest in developing the first Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) network by 2025, in line with the 2019 Conservative Party manifesto commitment. The Government made new commitments to that process last month with a new £350 million package targeting carbon emissions from the construction, transport and heavy industry sectors, which in part will support CCS development.

Critically, the report also recommends establishing interim targets for low-carbon hydrogen production to be set by 2030. Alongside this would be the introduction of a Low Carbon Obligation which would be critical in the enabling investment in low carbon forms of heating such as hydrogen, as well as heat pumps and hybrid systems.

In terms of hydrogen research and development, the UK has been taking the lead with trial projects like HyDeploy and Hy4Heat, which bodes well for a smoother transfer to low-carbon hydrogen-based heating, essential for a dependable and affordable future energy mix. Despite this, the Government has yet to clarify its stance for the commercial sector. A notable failure to show support for hybrid systems is particularly vexing, as these systems must be recognised as a bridging mechanism for commercial organisations awaiting the roll-out of hydrogen. This is why the introduction of a Low Carbon Obligation, as proposed by the report, is so important.

Truly “Green Hydrogen” is produced by electrolysis using renewable electricity, but currently, neither solar nor wind power have the existing infrastructure for large-scale green hydrogen production to work. As a result, “Blue Hydrogen”, which takes carbon dioxide from the hydrogen making process and uses Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) to contain this, while not fully green, is a “leaner” version that is the first step in a new direction for national gas deployment for heating purposes. Using CCS technology should still allow for the capture up to 95% of the carbon dioxide emissions produced from the use of fossil fuels in energy generation, preventing it from entering the atmosphere and damaging the environment.

The report recognises the important role that Blue Hydrogen projects play in supporting the reduction of carbon emissions in the immediate future.  The hope is that if the Government shows active support for, and promotes Blue Hydrogen as a valid steppingstone, it will also have to recognise and support not only heat pumps, but also hybrid solutions. Hybrid systems represent a necessary and realistic route for the commercial sector which otherwise faces a continued lack of clarity that will inherently lead to considerable additional refurbishment costs as they shift find themselves coerced into shifting from one preferred ‘green’ technology to the next, and possibly back again, over the coming 15 to 20 years.

The commercial built environment remains a considerable factor in the generation of carbon emissions in the UK. Improved clarity and guidance from the Government has to come further up the agenda, and sooner rather than later, if organisations are to embrace and actively support development within new and existing buildings that will contribute to attaining net-zero by 2050.

The Route to a Green Grid

Decarbonisation of gas supplies is seen as a necessary step towards meeting the UK’s carbon reduction targets, including the net zero greenhouse gas emissions target by 2050.  A new round of consultation from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has laid out a structural proposal, the Green Gas Support Scheme, to be funded by a Green Gas Levy to increase the proportion of biomethane injection in the grid.

The intent of the consultation is to put in place the necessary mechanism “as soon as is practicable”, with the intent of launching the scheme within the year. The scheme would operate through to the financial year 2025-26, but initially, only support biomethane as this currently is the only green gas commercially produced in the UK. Crucially, the consultation recognises that to further decarbonise the gas grid, there is a need to widen support to other potential green gases in the longer term. This is important as it opens the door to further consultation on the strong potential of hydrogen blending to meet the more widespread demands for an alternative, green gas that can take full advantage of the highly effective infrastructure already in place to deliver gas to properties, both commercial and domestic, throughout the country.

As biomethane is produced from biomass, it is considered renewable and can offer significant carbon savings when compared with natural gas. The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) consider the production of biomethane from waste as a low-regrets option and recommend continued government support.

To date, biomethane has been supported by the Non-Domestic RHI. As funding commitment to new projects ceases in March 2021, the Green Gas Support Scheme is intended to provide new investment for the industry, enabling the development of new production plants in order to encourage an increase in the proportion of green gas in the gas grid. The proposed tariff mechanism should help address the significant ongoing operating costs of plants. Additionally, as the payments are to be directly related to the specific volumes of biomethane injection, it will continue to incentivise ongoing biomethane production after the capital costs are paid off.

A major facet of the current consultation phase is intended to ratify a robust cost control framework to ensure that costs do not rise unexpectedly, damaging the value of any investment in the technology. It is believed that by driving investment into this sector, biomethane production will see an uplift, along with a reduction in production cost as plants are sized optimally based on individual characteristics and feedstock availability.

Looking beyond this scheme, focus must expand to recognise the value and importance of hydrogen in the mid to long term as the defacto choice for green gas delivery at scale. That means actively supporting hydrogen production through the Green Gas Support Scheme, or its successors. Given that blending small proportions into the natural gas supply and deployment within industry would not initially require major infrastructure changes, the use of hydrogen is truly advantageous.

We recognise that hydrogen is expected to play a valuable role in meeting the needs for heating the UK’s commercial buildings but will never be a 100% solution. This is why deployment in combination with heat pumps as part of a ‘hybrid system’ remains the best, and most cost-effective to deploy and operate method for commercial organisations to decarbonise operations and drive a low carbon economy.

Whether the ongoing consultation on green gas and low and high-temperature appliances decides to recognise the importance of ‘hybrids’ with financial support, the simple truth is that for the wide 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. It would, therefore, be greatly advantageous for the Government to recognise and support technologies that advance low carbon adoption now and support retention of existing infrastructure that would prove critical for the deployment of next-generation long term green technology.

Bromsgrove Leisure Centre plant room.

Sustainable Energy For The Leisure Industry – Part 1

From hotel accommodation to restaurant kitchens, spas and swimming pools, leisure estates generate a wide range of electrical and heating demands. In terms of usage patterns, demands can be significant, often varied, but also constant, creating a complex range of challenging applications.

Currently, around 40% of UK greenhouse gas emissions are accounted for by heating, cooling, ventilation, the provision of hot water and lighting properties. The impetus then is to reduce operational energy use, prioritising reduction in energy demand and consumption over all other measures. This means in-use energy consumption will need to be calculated and publicly disclosed on an annual basis, as laid out in the new, mandatory Streamline Energy & Carbon Reporting (SECR) regime. This is designed to raise awareness of energy efficiency, reduce bills, and save carbon by driving an increase in renewable energy supply and prioritising on-site renewable energy sources.

From new builds to refurbishment projects, the leisure estate is faced with a myriad of choices, and, if medium or large organisations they are going to be increasingly held accountable by SECR for decisions that must ultimately balance both CAPEX and OPEX with this new sustainability.

A difficult task for an industry where heating and hot water are considered business-critical services and demands in terms of higher temperatures and usage far outstrip anything seen domestically.

The key then is to understand how hot water, heating and power demands can be cost-effectively brought into balance by maximising contribution to a building’s overall efficiency. Identifying technology concepts that help address such sustainability is only half the battle though, there still remains that need to reduce total cost of ownership. Space savings, ongoing supply reliability to simplified control and maintenance are all means to reduce costs and provide peace of mind when investing in a business-critical hot water and heating system.

Innovo commercial water heater by AO Smith

A.O.Smith’s Innovo Water Heater

Adveco's MD commercial condensing boiler

Adveco’s MD. A range of high-efficiency Floor-standing condensing boilers

Whilst arguments continue to rage regarding the validity of gas for a low carbon future, the reality is that for the foreseeable future our national infrastructure will continue to remain heavily reliant on the provision and improved use of gas. For leisure projects that face the most stringent legislation and oversight, high-efficiency condensing boilers, such as Adveco’s MD range, and room-sealed condensing water heaters, such as A.O. Smith’s BFC and Innovo units, remain a realistic and effective means of meeting the demands for improved sustainability.

When it comes to the refurbishing of existing building stock, which is where the greatest advances can be potentially made, installing solar thermal is going to be better from a renewables’ perspective. But we also recognise that this approach can be constrained by limitations of space, delivery timeframes and budget. ROI can also be much slower to achieve, despite the welcome new Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) legislation, under the which SMEs installing new solar photovoltaic panels, will from 2020, be able to profit from exporting excess generated electricity to the grid.

A smart approach would be to combine two heat generators, such as gas and solar, or gas and air source heat pump, although this can generate new issues of logistics, space requirements and increased complexity of plant, leading to a higher CAPEX cost compared to a pure condensing heating system. The advantages for a commercial leisure site from a hybrid heat pump/gas boiler system is the ability to smartly balance the heat generators, guaranteeing all-important high system temperatures while reducing the maximum power consumption for greater efficiencies and lower operational costs.