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Renewable Trends for 2017

An overview of the changing landscape for self-builders interested in heat pumps and the top trends predicted by the UK’s leading manufacturer and supplier of ground source heat pumps, Kensa Heat Pumps – who happen to have their main manufacturing facility right here in Cornwall!

The bigger picture

In December Government published its response to the March 2016 Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) consultation, revealing its proposals for the revised scheme expected to launch in April 2017.

Within the response it was stated: “The Government recognises that ground source heat pumps are likely to be a strategically important technology for decarbonising heat, and anticipates potential for significant growth in deployment of this technology through the period to 2050.

With this in mind, and Government targets to install four million heat pumps at residential properties by 2030 – against a backdrop of around 200,000 heat pumps currently installed – some targeted action from Government and innovative approaches from the market are clearly necessary to deliver the UK’s carbon targets.

What to expect:

The revised domestic RHI in Spring will introduce a heat demand limit, which will decrease returns for installations at large homes in order to focus more spend on smaller to medium sized dwellings. See <Our previous blog – Andrew Weaver’s blog on the impending caps>  for more information.

The Government is keen to boost housebuilding and improve affordability, thus introducing the Right to Build Act in October 2016.  Local Authorities now have a legal duty to make sufficient plots available to meet demand on their Right to Build register. The custom and self build sector is forecast for huge growth – research commissioned by the National Custom and Self Build Association shows that 53% of people would like to build their own home at some stage, with 1 million wanting to get started in the next 12 months. With the domestic RHI available to 2021, those looking to build their own sustainable and self-sufficient home with a ground source heat pump are well supported.

This will appeal to those who are building flats or two or more properties in close proximity.

Any installation featuring an individual heat pump at two or more residential properties served by a common ground loop – when one borehole feeds heat to two or more properties – will qualify as district heating and be eligible for the 20-year non-domestic RHI income stream.

Indeed the aforementioned Government consultation response states: “The Government is keen to support the deployment of GSHPs making use of shared ground loops.” 

By installing a heat pump in each dwelling and connecting clusters of two or more dwellings to a shared ground loop, this removes the need for a plant room and provides each property with their own energy bill, allowing them to switch suppliers at their will.

To support shared ground loop deployment, the revised non-domestic RHI in April will feature a very important refinement; for residential district heating installations, non-domestic RHI income will no longer be based upon metered heat consumption. Instead, the non-domestic RHI will be based on the ‘deemed’ heat consumption of the property, based on figures in the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC); this mirrors the process for the domestic RHI.

This change is crucial.  It will result in lower costs as there is no need to supply, install and maintain expensive metering/communications equipment.  Further, it will be possible to establish the level of return from the non-domestic RHI at the outset of any project.  Most importantly, the returns will be appealing and far more generous than those under the 7-year domestic RHI scheme, which only applies to individual properties.

Compliance with building regulations is currently the only real ‘stick’ to encourage self-builders to install low carbon technologies like ground source heat pumps.

That said, with the carbon intensity of electricity falling because of the increasing influence of renewable sources and the reduced reliance on coal in the generation mix, whenever a heat pump is installed the technology will be viewed more favourably due to its decreasing carbon footprint.

Whether it’s the concern of what Brexit may do to import costs for materials, or the influence of lifestyle or sustainability choices, buying British – and sourcing local products and labour – is an emerging important trend.

British-manufactured renewable products, like Kensa’s ground source heat pumps, also go hand-in-hand with low carbon motives; we’re becoming increasingly aware of our carbon footprint, and the need to invest in local communities.

All in all there has never been a better time for self-builders to embrace ground source heat pumps!

This blog was provided by Kensa Heat Pumps