In efforts to limit the worst effects of global warming the UK Government have committed to a 2050 net zero carbon target. The recent rapid decarbonisation of the electricity grid coupled with the high efficiency of ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) now means that the route to large scale electrification of heating shows significantly more promise than the decarbonisation of the gas grid.
GSHPs are already highly efficient and lifetime carbon savings substantial but further advancement can be attained in combining technologies that uniquely work alongside GSHPs. Coupled with innovations such as smart controls, cooling and PV-T GSHPs are set to enable this rapid transformation to take place.
The emerging smart revolution could play an essential role in a lower carbon future.
Managing the varying demands of the electrical grid traditionally requires building additional generating capacity to over-produce and then turning this off when it’s not needed. However, if properly synchronised the smart controls of millions of devices such as GSHPs, electric vehicles etc. would permit the grid to function correctly without the need for over generation.
The stable source temperature of GSHPs make them well suited to running when the grid can best support it and combined with their low electricity consumption could save billions of pounds of future investment in generating capacity.
Consumers will also benefit as Smart controls will allow householders to autonomously take advantage of supplier’s dynamic tariffs, simply running their GSHPs when prices are lowest. Modelling shows savings of 25-40% are achievable right now. Better still, lower priced times of day typically coincide with lower carbon grid electricity!!
Warmer summers, improved insulation, larger windows and urban heat islands are combining to increase the need for cooling, detrimental in the fight against climate change.
Traditional air conditioning makes the situation worse, extracting heat from buildings and pumping it into the air. However, a ground array with an ambient temperature district heating loop makes an excellent source of cooling.
A consequence of extracting heat from the ground in winter is a large area of pre-chilled ground which is piped to the GSHP within each property. Adding a small circulating pump facilitates passive cooling with extremely low running costs. For properties that need further cooling, simply reversing the GSHPs hydraulic flows means the heat pump will actively cool the property.
Both processes reintroduce the waste heat into the ground with the added benefit of improving the GSHPs heating efficiency the following winter.
Solar panels that combine photovoltaic (PV) cells and thermal (T) water heat exchangers have been around for a while but we can realise their full potential by combining them with a ground array and GSHP.
In summer, the ground array will cool the panels from 40-50oC to 15-25oC, increasing efficiency of the panels by 15-25%. The heat taken from the panels re-charges the ground array which increases the efficiency of the GSHP by 10-20%.
This winning combination of renewable technologies improves the efficiency of each independently and results in a more effectual overall system, bill reductions and carbon reductions.
These innovations all take advantage of existing technology combining them in ways that hugely aid the decarbonisation of heat. They are ready to go and future proofed meaning they can be deployed now and their benefits will only increase with time as the electricity grid evolves and decarbonises.
Coming Soon - Kensa are pleased to announce that from April 2020 we will have a permanent display in the Building Centre; showcasing our award winning GSHPs and innovative ground arrays.