Green energy firm: Leaked heat pump report must be treated with ‘utmost caution’

A leading green energy product manufacturer says leaked findings of an incomplete study into the effectiveness of heat pumps must be treated with the ‘utmost caution’.

German owned Stiebel Eltron is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of heat pumps. Its UK operations director John Felgate said the heat pump industry is determined to set the record straight on leaked findings of a report by the Energy Savings Trust (EST) which suggest the performance of heat pumps is ‘unreliable’. Heat pumps generate ‘green’ heat and hot water for properties by recycling energy from the air or the ground and Stiebel has been manufacturing them for over 25 years. The technology is seen as a key weapon in the fight to cut carbon emissions. Today heat is responsible for half the UK’s carbon emissions and half energy use. The Government is committed to generating 12pc of the UK’s heat from renewable sources by 2020 and by 2016 all new homes built must be carbon neutral.

Mr Felgate said leaking the report against the wishes of the authors, who have said they are still unsure about its findings, is ‘reckless and irresponsible’ and could seriously undermine Government plans to introduce the Renewable Energy Heat Incentive in Spring next year. The much called for incentive follows similar schemes on the continent and gives householders around £1000 a year in return for using a heat pump. The schemes have proved hugely effective in Germany and France in encouraging people to ‘go green’. Mr Felgate said without the RHI the UK’s ability to hit its green heat targets would be dealt a body blow.

“It is vital we do not allow this unhelpful leak of a half baked report to distort the truth about heat pumps,” he said. “The EST has refused to comment on the leak saying it has a responsibility to the industry and the public to be 100pc sure that its data has been fully understood and cross referenced before being publicly released. So we must wait for the report to be rigorously tested and properly finished before jumping to conclusions. The RHI Is critical to the microgeneration industry and this ill-informed report must not derail it.”

Mr Felgate said he understood 83 sites are being monitored in the study which have to date produced ‘wide-ranging’ performance.

“Stiebel Eltron is aware these are still very early days in the UK for the microgeneration sector,” he said. “Which is exactly why this leaking this study before it is finished is so dangerous. This technology which has been in successful use in Germany and France and elsewhere for many years and we need to treat this leak and talk of variable performance with the utmost caution. We must ensure the debate remains informed. Drawing on Stiebel Eltron’s many years of experience it is important to understand how this technology works and how best to use it and why some heat pumps perform better than others. Firstly a good specification is required. Heat pumps should not be installed in properties with inadequate insulation. Second, the heat pump must be properly installed. Having a trained and qualified plumbing specialist install the equipment is fundamental. Heat pumps will underperform if they are badly installed. Third, the installer and manufacturer should inform the customer. Every property is different and the owner should be told exactly what the running costs and carbon savings will be prior to installation. Heat pumps do vary in performance depending on the property. In fact it is better to use a wide range of technologies to maximise your financial and carbon savings. That includes heat recovery ventilation, solar thermal, solar PV, domestic hot water heat pumps and point of use water heating.”

Mr Felgate said Stiebel Eltron is determined to ensure the microgeneration industry has a credible name for itself as it establishes itself in the UK. For this reason Stiebel will undertake a free energy efficiency survey of any property in the UK to examine the heat demands of the building before recommending which green technologies are most suited to the property, if at all.

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