Tag Archives: Energy

Chapter Status for ASHRAE Ireland

Ken Goodman, ASHRAE
Region XIV ARC

There is plenty to celebrate for ASHRAE members in Ireland and in Europe. At the recent ASHRAE summer meeting at Long Beach, California, Ireland became an ASHRAE Chapter, Europe has a new ASHRAE Region, and the new President is a European. Two more Chapters were also approved in the UK and three new student branches in the UK, Spain and Bulgaria.

Earlier in the year, ASHRAE Scotland and ASHRAE UK North were born, not to mention the agreements signed between ASHRAE and CIBSE in October of 2016, and between ASHRAE and the Institute of Refrigeration UK in April 2017.

The new ASHRAE Chapter is looking for people who are interested in sharing their ideas and opinions on the industry, and getting actively involved in ASHRAE in Ireland, Europe and worldwide. If interested, contact Ken Goodman, Region XIV ARC at email: ken.goodman@mail.ashrae.org

See the full story, plus other ASHRAE News, in the current issue of Building Services News by clicking on the Cover of the current issue on the Home Page and going to Pages 49 & 49.

Solar offers €2 billion gross potential

David Maguire, Chairman, Irish Solar Energy Association (ISEA).

David Maguire, Chairman,
Irish Solar Energy Association (ISEA).

At present, Ireland is the only EU member state that does not provide support for the generation of energy from solar. Currently,Ireland’s renewable energy policy is focused on wind generation, a source of energy that is in abundance on the island. However, while Ireland has broken records with wind generation, dependence on wind alone to achieve targets is not sufficient to guarantee a seamless transition to the low carbon economy that is desired by politicians. Critically, a growing demand for energy stemming not just from an increasing population, but a burgeoning IT sector that sees multinationals want to construct data centres in Ireland due to its ideal climatic conditions is rapidly shifting the nature of energy use.

Moreover, the nature of investment in energy is skewed towards coal and gas with €1.6 billion being invested in 2015, which is significantly greater than investments made in wind over the last five years. Responding to this change calls for a dynamic, resilient energy supply that can only be achieved through diversification of energy sources. This must include solar.

The Irish Government has stated that it is committed to guaranteeing consumers have access to affordable energy. Presently, Irish consumers pay the third highest energy prices in the European Union as of 2015. The Public Service Obligation (PSO) Levy primary means through which the Government funds renewable energy generation, has been the view that the inclusion (and to some extent other renewables) renewable energy mix will see a rise PSO Levy, and subsequently electricity However, research undertaken by KPMG indicates that for every €1 invested in solar there is a return of €3. In other words, solar has the potential to deliver €2 billion in gross value added (GVA) and €800 million in tax revenues (2017-2030).

Short-term concerns are receiving priority over the long-term benefits. The creation of a diverse mix of renewable energy sources that guarantees security of supply, a key tenet of Government policy, is therefore being sacrificed. While there is evidence of the recognition that energy diversification is needed and should be supported, solar PV is being overlooked as a viable option for meeting the country’s energy needs. A recent speech by Minister Naughten has cast a shadow on the nascent Irish solar industry. Understandably, the Minister wants to dampen excess speculation, but he also needs to strike a balance and bring the Irish public on a journey that outlines the many benefits that solar PV can bring.

We have a unique opportunity to harness Ireland’s indigenous renewable energy resources in a sustainable manner. This can be done in a way that offers long-term opportunities for investment and for real community participation. Solar is an indigenous renewable energy source. Further, the industry is keenly aware of the need for a pragmatic approach to developing the industry, such that it is sustainable and provides the long-term benefits.

Over 40 planning permissions have been granted for solar farms in Ireland. This indicates that the vast majority of local councils have been supportive of solar PV developments. Councillors have welcomed the opportunity for, among other things, local employment, biodiversity protection and carbon emission reduction.

A limited number of councillors, however, have tried to curtail planning applications for solar PV development, looking to central government to give more direction on the issue. Minister Coveney has so far taken the view that regular planning laws are good enough for assessing solar projects, despite the fact that they pre-date any solar proposals.

In the absence of any national guidelines the Irish Solar Energy Association (ISEA) is preparing its own recommendations for best practice in planning. These recommendations will be based on best practices in other countries. The Association believes that the creation of unnecessary road blocks in the long run are harmful, not just to the industry, but to the Irish people.

For example, in relation to rooftop solar, current planning restrictions are curtailing the ease with which a home or business can install a PV array on its rooftop. Existing planning rules state that, “total panel area must not exceed 12sq m or 50% of the total roof area including existing panels” on a domestic dwelling or, “total panel area must not exceed 50sq m or 50% of the total roof area, including existing panels” in a light industrial or business setting. This is very restrictive in allowing a home or business owner to install PV, as they will be put off by the extra expense and time of going through the planning process.

It also leads to a smaller system being deployed which, due to economies of scale, costs more per kWp to install than a larger system. A smaller system obviously produces less electricity, which in turn negatively affects how rooftop solar can assist in the transfer to a low carbon economy. It is imperative that given our current situation of not being on target for reaching our renewable commitments by 2020 that we assist commercial and domestic property owners in deploying rooftop solar with more ease.

There is a vast wealth of untapped energy resource in the rooftop sector in Ireland. The introduction of a Feed in Tariff (FiT), as has been done in countries like the UK and Germany, would help deploy a large solar resource on currently-vacant roof space. This would in turn empower home and business owners to be a part of Ireland reaching its 2020 targets, while gaining savings on their electricity bills and creating thousands of new jobs that strengthen Ireland’s economy. Surely it is better to spend money now to achieve our targets rather than face fines running into the hundreds of millions of Euro? By not acting now we will not only be left with fines but also with a stagnant renewable energy portfolio in our country’s energy mix.

Speaking for solar developers in Ireland, the industry recognises the need “to bring the people with us”. Through ISEA, key industry players have engaged people about solar and how it adds significant value to farmers’ livelihoods, business owners, and citizens. Economic growth in this area will create approximately 7,300 jobs according to the recent KPMG report. There is a public acceptance of the technology. However, there is always more that can be done to engage stakeholders and to innovate new ways collectively to incorporate solar into Ireland’s energy supply.

Companies in the industry operate on single-digit margins. The call for support mechanisms (specifically, a contract for difference (CfD) mechanism for large-scale projects and feed-in tariff (FIT) for rooftop and domestic projects) is not solely about asking the government to subsidise the industry. It is more far-reaching than that. It is a call for holistic policies that address the challenges faced by solar (as well as wind and other renewables).

In particular, solar PV projects are sensitive to policies pertaining to the following: grid connection, transmission and distribution of the electricity produced, planning, building regulations, agriculture, environment and heritage. Without the relevant Government departments working together, and with key stakeholders to ensure that policies align, Ireland will fail to realise its ambitions of transitioning to a low-carbon economy.

By ensuring that renewable energy policy going forward is integrated and comprehensive, the Irish Government sends a clear message. Firstly, to citizens that it recognises the importance of clean energy in providing high-quality living; secondly, to businesses and investors that Ireland is open for green investment.

In closing, it is important to note that Government represents the voice of the Irish people and thus is the force that will mobilise Ireland’s transition to a low-carbon economy. Government has a responsibility to the Irish people to innovate, such that Ireland remains competitive and resilient in an ever-evolving global economy.

Contact: info@irishsolarenergy.org;         www.irishsolarenergy.org

Can you hear the Eco?

Cover square webIf not, then you are not listening. Contrary to what some commentators would have you believe, the building services industry is behaving in a very responsible manner when it comes to the environment, sustainability and energy saving.

The issue of Building Services News is awash with evidence of the sector’s determination not just to help Ireland realise its EU 2020 obligations, but also to honour the spirit of its objectives.

In addition to a wealth of information on all manner of innovative product developments from individual companies, there are also articles from leading regulatory bodies and industry representative associations pointing the way forward.

System designers, contractors, installers and other key decision-makers will find a wealth of advice, guidance and informed opinion in this latest issue of Building Services News. To Hear the Eco log on to issuu.com/patlehane/docs/bsnews_jan_feb_2017_web_file

Jim Gannon appointed SEAI CEO

Jim Gannon, newly-appointed CEO of SEAI.

Jim Gannon, newly-appointed CEO of SEAI.

Jim Gannon has been appointed Chief Executive Officer by the SEAI. The appointment took effect on 23 May 2016 and Jim will lead the development and delivery of the Authority’s new five-year strategy. Mr Gannon is an engineering graduate of NUI Galway, has a Masters in Environmental Assessment from the University of Wales Aberystwyth and an MBA from the UCD Smurfit School of Business.

He has worked within the energy sector throughout his career, delivering projects at a European, national and regional level for public and private sector organisations. This has included projects across conventional and renewable energy, transmission and distribution infrastructure, energy demand management and technology development. Most recently, he held the position of Director at RPS Group, leading the Energy, Environment and Health and Safety sector.

SEAI Chair, Ms Julie O’Neill said: “Jim Gannon is an energetic and widely respected energy professional with a wealth of experience across all aspects of energy policy implementation. Working with the executive team, he will build on the successes of recent years and lead the organisation into the next phase which demands a rapid decarbonisation of our entire energy system.”

Speaking on his appointment, Mr Gannon said: “The new White Paper and recent commitments made at COP21 in Paris provide Ireland with both challenges and significant opportunities over the coming period. As a result, Ireland is likely to experience change at an infrastructural scale in addition to a technology-led democratisation of the energy system across electricity, transport and heat. I look forward to leading SEAI as it plays a central role in our transition to a more economically, socially and environmentally sustainable energy future.”

Humidifier Selection Made Easy

Debbie Batchelor, Sales Manager, Condair

Debbie Batchelor, Sales Manager, Condair

Level of humidity and fluctuation?                                                                                                             Different applications require different levels of humidity control. The most common application for a HVAC consultant will be the office environment’s requirement of between 40-60%rH (relative humidity). At this level people are comfortable and static buildup is reduced. Manufacturing industries may require a more specific level of humidity control. For instance, printers need to control humidity to a tighter 50-60%rH and textile manufacturers will need a higher 65-75%rH. Some pharmaceutical applications need an even tighter ±2%rH.

If an application requires tight control of humidity then the humidifier selection will be restricted to systems that give very fast responses to a drop or increase in humidity, like resistive steam or spray units. Water treatment may also be required to improve the consistency of performance.

Running time/shut down?                                                                                                                              If a humidification system is going to be used 24/7, then the number and type of humidifiers will need to reflect this. A critical system that needs to be constantly delivering a certain level of humidity must include run and standby humidifiers as every humidifier in the world needs to be shut down occasionally for maintenance.

Running costs/environmental impact?                                                                                                   Running costs vary widely with different types of humidifiers. Some steam systems can use 150 times more energy than an efficient evaporative humidifier and require six times more to be spent on them in servicing and spare parts. The initial purchase cost is a lot less for the steam system but an error in the initial product selection can cost the client (and the environment) dearly over the life of the unit.

Consideration should also be given to using some evaporative humidifiers to reduce the running costs associated with the building’s cooling system. This can reduce the running costs associated with DX chillers and reduce the building’s overall carbon footprint.

Energy types and availability?                                                                                                                           This is a critical question as it’s not unheard of for contractors to arrive on site to install equipment only to find that the amount of electricity required to run a humidification system is not available. For really large duties, the energy requirements of using an electrical system can become prohibitive and either evaporative, spray or gas humidifiers may be a more viable option for the end-user.

Water quality and maintenance?                                                                                                                    Water quality and maintenance are intrinsically linked when dealing with humidifiers as poor water quality inevitably leads to a higher servicing requirement. The minerals left behind in the humidifier when the water is either boiled or evaporated into an atmosphere need to be dealt with.

If the water has a high mineral content but a high level of maintenance is unacceptable, water treatment should also be specified. This can take the form of reverse osmosis filters and water softeners to help improve the quality of the water and reduce the level and frequency of servicing.

Evaporation distance required?                                                                                                                             For humidifiers providing moisture to ducts or AHU systems, the humidifier must be able to evaporate the moisture into the airstream before it meets physical obstructions, like duct corners, otherwise this will cause condensation. If the available evaporation distance is short, specialist steam lances can be used, which give evaporation in under 60cms, or evaporative humidifiers specified, which provide instant evaporation.

Where to locate humidifiers?                                                                                                                                 If access to the location is restrictive, certain humidifiers may be easier to install than others. Also, if a unit is located in an awkward position, servicing may be difficult or sometimes impossible. Mounting height should also be considered.

Budgets and advice                                                                                                                                             Asking these questions helps paint a clearer picture of the end-user’s ideal requirements. However, the “ideal” obviously has to be balanced against the available budget. While trying to reach this balance it is always worthwhile drawing up a matrix of capital cost vs running cost as budgets are often set without this in mind. A higher investment in the initial equipment than the proposed budget can often be in the client’s best interests.

Building Services News Celebrates 50 years of Continuously Serving the Industry!

Joe and Pat

Joe and Pat

Right from the outset Building Services News has been an integral part of Ireland’s building services industry and not just a magazine serving the sector. Publisher and Editor Pat Lehane sits on the executive of most of the industry professional and trade representative bodies and the journal has been instrumental in the establishment of many of these organisations.

In addition, Building Services News plays a major role in promoting and facilitating cross-over activity between these bodies, and provides secretariat support and accommodation addresses for many. It also guides and champions many industry causes, coordinating joint activities into lobbying and petitioning groups to act on behalf of the industry as a whole.

Building Services News provides the industry with saturation coverage of the building services sector. It is available in three formats – the print edition which is posted directly to individually-named industry personnel; the web edition, which is freely available to all; and the Facebook page, which is inter-linked with the web edition.

To all of you participating with us in this celebratory golden anniversary edition we say thank you. A small number of you have been dealing with the publication since day one, while many others have been trading partners for a considerable number of years. Of course there are also those of you who have joined us in recent years. In marking the occasion our collective vision should, and is, on the future.

In perusing the archives spanning 50 years we now realise how lucky we are to be part of such a vibrant, dynamic industry sector. In the early days the role of building services was perhaps under-rated by society in general.

Today, that has changed. Rising energy costs, a demand for more comfortable home and working environments, and a genuine sense of social responsibility in respect of the environment has put building services centre stage. What an opportunity – the future for the industry is bright and secure!

However, commercial success is only part of the story. The building services sector is also very much about people, and about a work/social interactive balance. We have been lucky to have made many friends down through the years. Sadly, some of them are no longer with us.

We dedicate this issue to their memory.

Another Successful Prosecution for CER re RGII Misrepresentation

Paul McGowan, CER Commissioner for Safety

Paul McGowan, CER Commissioner for Safety

The Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) has prosecuted Camperman Ltd, a company based in County Wexford, for illegally portraying itself as a Registered Gas Installer. This case was heard at the Gorey District Court earlier this month.

At the time, Camperman Ltd was not a Registered Gas Installer and therefore committed an offence under the Electricity Regulation Act, 1999. The court imposed a criminal conviction on Camperman Ltd and issued a fine of €500. In addition, costs of €300 were awarded to the CER.

This prosecution emphasises the requirement by law for anyone using the Registered Gas Installer logo or portraying themselves as a Registered Gas Installer, to be registered with the Registered Gas Installers of Ireland (RGII).

Commissioner for Safety, Paul McGowan stated: Today’s case sends a clear signal that the CER will prosecute companies and individuals that illegally portray themselves as Registered Gas Installers. Only companies or individuals registered with the Register of Gas Installers of Ireland (RGII) may call themselves a Registered Gas Installer. Registration is required to protect the safety of the public. The public can be assured that only Registered Gas Installers are competent, insured and inspected.”

SDAR Journal 2014 — latest edition of Ireland’s only dedicated building services research journal now available

 

Pat Lehane, Publisher & Editor,Buiding Services News with Dr Kevin kelly, Editor, SDAR Journal 2014 and Dr Brian Motherway, Chief Executive Officer, SEAI

Pat Lehane, Publisher & Editor, Building Services News with Dr Kevin Kelly, Editor, SDAR Journal 2014 and Dr Brian Motherway, Chief Executive Officer, SEAI

The latest edition of Ireland’s only dedicated building services research journal — SDAR Journal 2014 — was formerly introduced by Dr Brian Motherway, Chief Executive, SEAI at a ceremony held in DIT Bolton St recently.

The journal’s objective is to foster innovative practice in low-energy design of the built environment, and to encourage applied research among professional practitioners and new researchers in academia. The papers published are intended to inform design practice in construction and to assist innovative engineers striving towards optimisation of building integrated renewable technologies.

CIBSE and DIT came together four years ago to jointly publish this journal. The intention then was to disseminate insightful findings to the professional community involved in the built environment. This is still the case. The reader is taken to be a sceptic who will be convinced by evidence, not green bling on buildings, or unproven designs.

While the publishers want to hear what works well, they are conscious of the fact that the professional community can also be informed by what went wrong. Therefore they encourage critical reflection and objective evaluation of real-world projects. Post-occupancy evaluation of innovations that support more sustainable and energy-efficient practice leads to mainstreaming of good-quality, leading-edge projects.

The building services sector is data rich but sometimes time poor. SDAR Journal encourages and supports in practical terms synergies with academia. Academics are eager to support this applied research process and will provide time on task in exchange for access to useful data.

Would-be contributors are encouraged to submit abstracts for the annual SDAR Awards and Irish Lighter competitions. Both competitions are effectively feeders for this journal. The publishers particularly encourage novice researchers and industry professionals to submit short abstracts of their work, either to the above competitions or directly to the Editor.

Contact: kevin.kelly@dit.ie

CBSE Ireland Annual Lunch Completely Booked Out!

Gerard Hosford, guest speaker at the forthcoming CIBSE Annual Lunch to be held in Dublin on 5 December 2014

Gerard Hosford, guest speaker at the forthcoming CIBSE Annual Lunch to be held in Dublin on 5 December 2014

The forthcoming CIBSE Ireland annual lunch has seen an unprecedented demand for tickets with the result that the room capacity has been exceeded so no further bookings can be accepted. Venue is the Alexander Hotel in Dublin and the date is Friday, 5 December.

The CIBSE Ireland annual lunch is now the main networking event for the building services sector, providing a forum for those involved in the industry to renew old acquaintances, exchange view and opinions, discuss issues of importance, and socialise in a very relaxed and celebratory atmosphere.

As is customary in recent years, the guest speaker is an Irish engineering graduate who has forged a successful professional career abroad. Gerard Hosford, a graduate of Cork IT, is this year’s speaker. Following completion of a three year full-time Bachelor of Engineering in Building Services Engineering Degree (BEng) at CIT, he moved to Newcastle upon Tyne to complete his Honours Bachelor of Engineering Degree BEng (Hons) at Northumbria University. 

He currently works as Senior Mechanical Engineer with Patrick Parsons Consulting Engineers in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, and is also the Chairman of CIBSE North East Region in England and has lived there for almost 10 years.

 

 

 

The end may be in sight for fossil fuels as science makes solar power cheap

Ambrose Evans Pritchard

About 29% of electricity capacity added in America last year came from solar power, rising to 100% in Massachusetts. “More solar has been installed in the US in the last 18 months than in 30 years,” says the US Solar Energy Industries Association. California’s subsidy pot is drying up but new solar has hardly missed a beat.

The technology is improving so fast – helped by the US military – that it has achieved a virtuous circle. Michael Parker and Flora Chang at researchers Sanford Bernstein say we are entering a new order of “global energy deflation” that must inevitably erode the viability of fossil fuel over time.

The deflation ratchet may be imperceptible at first, since solar makes up just 0.17% of the world’s $5 trillion (€3.65 trillion) energy market. The trend does not preclude cyclical oil booms along the way, nor does it obviate the need for shale fracking as a stop-gap (in Britain’s case to curb a current account deficit of 5.4% of GDP). But the technology momentum goes only one way.

“Eventually solar will become so large that there will be consequences everywhere”, Parker and Chang say. This remarkable overthrow of everything we take for granted in world energy politics may occur within “the better part of a decade.”

If the hypothesis is broadly correct, solar will slowly squeeze the revenues of petro– rentier regimes in Russia, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, among others. Many already need oil prices near $100 a barrel to cover welfare budgets. They will have to find a new business model.

The Saudis are themselves betting on solar, investing more than $100bn in 41GW of capacity, enough to cover 30% of their power needs by 2030. That will mean more crude – other things being equal – washing into a deflating global energy market.

Clean Energy Trends says new solar installations overtook wind worldwide last year, with an extra 36.5 gigawatts. China accounted for a third. Wind is still ahead with 2.5 times old capacity but the “solar sorpasso” will be reached in 2021 as photovoltaic costs keep falling.

The US National Renewable Energy Laboratory says scientists can now capture 31.1% of the sun’s energy with a 111V solar cell, the latest world record. This will find its way briskly into routine use. Wind cannot keep pace. It is static by comparison.

A McKinsey study said the average cost of installed solar power in the US has dropped to $2.59 from $6 a watt in 2010. It expects this to fall to $2.30 next year and to $1.60 by 2020. This will put US solar within “striking distance” of coal and gas.

It is hard to keep up with the cascade of new research papers, so many brimming with optimism. The University of Buffalo has developed a nanoscale microchip able to capture a “rainbow” of wavelengths and absorb far more light. An Oxford team is pioneering use of perovskite, an abundant material that is cheaper than silicon and produces 40mc more voltage.

One by one, the seemingly intractable obstacles are being conquered. Israel’s Ecoppia has just begun using robots to clean the panels of its Ketura Sun park in the Negev desert without the use of water. It is beautifully simple. Soft microfibers sweep away 99% of the dust each night with the help of airflows.

Prof Michael Aziz at Harvard University is developing a flow–battery that promises to cut the cost of energy storage by two–thirds below the latest vanadium batteries. He said technology gives us a “fighting chance” to overcome the curse of intermittency from wind and solar power, which spike and die in bursts. “I foresee a future where we can vastly cut down on fossil fuel use.”

Even thermal solar is coming of age, driven for now by use of molten salts to store heat. California opened the world’s biggest solar thermal park in February in the Mojave desert – the Ivanpah project, co– owned by Google – able to produce power for 100,000 homes by reflecting sunlight from 170,000 mirrors on to boilers that generate electricity from steam. Ivanpah still relies on subsidies but a new SunPower project in Chile will go naked, selling into the spot market.

Deutsche Bank says there are already 19 regional markets around the world that have achieved “grid parity”, meaning that photovoltaic solar panels can match or undercut local electricity prices without subsidy: California, Chile, Australia, Turkey, Israel, Germany, Japan, Italy, Spain and Greece for residential power; Mexico and China for industrial power.

This will spread as battery storage costs keep dropping, a spin–off from electric car ventures. Sanford Bernstein’s report says it may not be long before home energy storage is cheap enough to lure households away from the grid en masse across the world, spelling “disaster” for some utilities.

Solar competes directly. Each year it supplies a bigger chunk of peak power needs in the middle of the day, when air conditioners and factories are both at full throttle. “Demand during what was one of the most profitable times of the day disappears,” the report says.

Michael Liebreich from Bloomberg New Energy Finance says we can already discern the moment of “peak fossil fuels” around 2030, the tipping point when the world starts using less coal, oil and gas in absolute terms.

This is a remarkable twist of history.

Six years ago we faced an oil shock with crude trading at $148. The rise of “Chindia” and the sudden inclusion of two billion consumers into the world economy seemed to be taxing resources to breaking point. For Germany it is a bitter–sweet vindication. The country sank €100 billion into feed–in tariffs or in solar companies that blazed the trail, did us all a favour and went bankrupt. They have the world’s biggest solar infrastructure but latecomers get it much cheaper.

For Britain it offers hope of reprieve after 20 years of energy drift, yet also raises a quandry: should the country lock into more nuclear power with strike–prices fixed for 35 years? Should it spend £100 bilion on off– shore wind when imported LNG might well be cheaper in the future? For the world, it portends a once-in-a-century upset of the geostrategic order.

Sheikh Yamani, the veteran Saudi oil minister, saw the writing on the wall long ago. “Thirty years from now there will be a huge amount of oil – and no buyers. The Stone Age came to an end, not because we had a lack of stones,” he told The Daily Telegraph in 2000.

Wise old owl. ■