Tag Archives: carbon reduction

Lighting Key to Green Deal Success

Paul O’Connor, Chairman, Lighting Association Ireland

Many perceive lighting mainly as a driver for energy efficiency and this indeed remains one of the core values for the lighting industry. The now mostly-accomplished transition to LED technology has led to up to 90% savings for European a comprehensive light management year as of 2030 (Lot 37 Ecodesign Lighting Systems <http://ecodesignlightingsystems.

However, the benefits from lighting for the health, well-being, productivity and safety of people are rarely seen as added value. At best, they come for free as part of the energy savings. These benefits received more attention in 2017, when three biologists were awarded the Nobel Prize for helping to explain how the human circadian rhythm works, including how light affects our daily biological cycle.

With the EU Renovation Wave initiative, the discussion must move beyond energy savings to also address healthier buildings, peoples’ quality of life and a lower level of inconvenience. We spend 90% of our time indoors and the quality of our indoor environment has a direct and indirect impact on our health, well-being, and productivity.

See full article at link below.

Renovation Wave and Green Deal Objectives

According to one of the most recent releases from the EU, a refurbished and improved building stock will help pave the way for a decarbonised and clean energy system. Currently, roughly 75% of the building stock is energy inefficient, yet almost 80% of today’s buildings will still be in use in 2050. Hence the EU’s Renovation Wave initiative.

The construction, use and renovation of buildings require significant amounts of energy and mineral resources (e.g. sand, gravel, cement). Buildings also account for 40% of energy consumed yet, in parallel, 50 their homes adequately warm. of the building stock varies from 0.4 to 1.2% in the member states.

This rate will need to at least double to reach the EU’s energy efficiency and climate objectives. Renovation of both public and private buildings is an essential out in the European Green Deal as a key initiative to drive energy efficiency in the sector and deliver on objectives.

The so-called “Renovation Wave Initiative” will address current low decarbonisation and renovation rates across the EU, and tackle the underlying barriers for improving the energy efficiency of the EU building stock. See full article at

Heat pumps – time to move to ‘system integration’

 Thomas Nowak, Secretary General

Thomas Nowak, Secretary General

In Ireland, the Heat Pump Association’s sales figures for 2015 fully reflect this pattern, showing an increase of 67.76% on the previous year, making for a total of 3902 units sold. Indications for the first six months of 2016 are for another bumper year in store. This overall growth is mainly driven by the strong segment of air-sourced heat pumps, a renewable technology that finds increasing attention in European and national statistics, according to EPHA.

Geographically, most of the growth can be attributed to increased sales in countries such as Spain (+15%), Italy (+20%) and France (+8%). However, as indicated, Ireland had by far the greatest percentage growth, albeit from a lower starting point. “These figures could increase further in these countries if an appropriate framework would be set at EU level to account for renewable cooling“, commented Pascal Westring, EHPA expert in statistics. This issue is being addressed by the Commission this year, with the Heating & Cooling Strategy and revision of the Renewable Energy Directive.

“Technology-neutrality”                                                                                                             Looking at the sales potential identified by EHPA, if European markets would reach the same maturity level as the Swedish one, the European heat pump stock could realistically grow to 60 million units, enough to replace today’s imported Russian gas for heating purposes.

“We are not yet there”, says Thomas Nowak, Secretary General of EHPA, “but interest in heat pump technology is on the rise across Europe. A growing number of experts conclude that decarbonisation of the heating sector is impossible without heat pumps.

“Civil society is also turning to the technology. We see a growing number of cities applying to our ‘heat pump city of the year award’. Yet, EU policy-makers prefer to remain technology-neutral. Instead, they should create framework conditions that favour the most efficient and best performing technologies. When the state of our planet requires immediate action, high ambition must be the answer.”

Integrated solutions = heat pumps                                                                                                               Thomas Nowak added: “A catchy word in Brussels energy discussion nowadays is ‘integrated approach’. Heat pumps are the perfect system integration technology for a resilient Energy Union. They are a bridge between the electricity and the thermal sector, between heating and cooling. They can be combined with residual heat, district heating, cogeneration and other RES solutions. Maybe system integration could be the new way forward to unleash the potential of heat pumps”

EHPA Key policy messages                                                                                                                             Meeting EU’s climate and energy goals entails the decarbonisation of the heating sector. The latter requires a full decarbonisation of the building sector by 2050. According to several studies, this can only be achieved in time by exploiting the full potential of heat pumps, the most efficient and renewable technologies.

Due to the “lock-in” effect of investment in thermal appliances, heat pumps need to be given strong political recognition as of today. This means:

• Heat pumps need to be openly supported by policy makers to reassure consumers and investors. Best available technologies must be promoted in EU and national policies, on  the basis of a consumer-friendly energy label (that has no empty ‘A’ class and compares functionally-equivalent products);

• Heat pumps need a stimulating climate-friendly regulatory framework, such as strong building requirements, policies to foster the renovation sector, defined phase-down objectives for fossil fuel boilers, and a forward-looking primary energy factor;

• Heat pumps play a key role in system integration and should be valued and promoted. They offer huge flexibility potential through demand-response and thermal storage.

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.”

Possibilities limitless with today’s BMS systems

Henry Lawson, Market Research Consultant, BSRIA

Henry Lawson, Market Research Consultant, BSRIA

The building manager or consultant looking to improve the energy efficiency of a building has a limited range of weapons at his/her disposal. These include making the structure of the building more energy efficient, but this can sometimes be difficult and expensive, especially where existing buildings are concerned.

Installing more energy-efficient HVAC systems is another route to go, but this can require substantial investment. However, the main option lies in monitoring and managing the building’s use of energy more efficiently, which is why it is important to use different rotary encoder options with thousands of configurations from companies like Dynapar. Hence the importance of Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS). These are computer software-based systems that help to manage, control and monitor building technical services and the energy consumption of devices related to the building’s use.

BSRIA research at the end of 2014 showed that the BEMS market was growing at about 10% annually in Europe and is expected to reach some €1.7 billion in Europe this year. BSRIA’s findings are also echoed by web coverage of major issues concerning energy and smart  technology. This includes both major news stories and company announcements.

Coverage of building energy efficiency trebled between the middle of 2013 and the end of 2014. But how is this growth in interest being focussed? To improve a building’s energy performance you need to understand how the various building systems are performing, and ideally to identify patterns and predict and pre-empt problems, as where, for example a piece of equipment is using an abnormally high amount of energy.

Accordingly, BEMS systems increasingly offer advanced and sophisticated  analytical capabilities, going far beyond simple charting and reporting. When we look at web coverage of building analytics, we see a massive surge of coverage in the second half of 2014 alone.

Of course this coverage reflects the attempts of companies offering analytics to promote their solutions as well as the interest of the media and the market. But the genuine growth in the BEMS market – with building analytics at the core – suggests that this is a lot more than just ”hype”. However, with such a range of BEMS solutions and associated analytics available, the client needs to make sure that any BEMS solution selected can collect the information that is needed, and present clear information that identifies what action needs to be taken.

Delivering building energy efficiency                                                                                                         Today’s BEMS facilitate different levels of interaction with buildings’ systems. These include:

— Automatic control

— Alarms

— Automatic optimisation

— Demand response

— Monitoring and targeting

— Equipment performance analysis

— Maintenance actions

— Estate monitoring and targeting.

Building managers need to be able to respond in a timely and effective way to problems and anomalies that are identified. At the most basic level this means that those operating and maintaining the building on a day-today basis – whether in-house staff or outsourced facilities managers – understand the information being generated, how to prioritise it and what concrete steps to take.

For many facilities managers the perfect BEMS would collect, analyse, act on and distribute all necessary information, and save energy, with the minimum of human intervention. The problem has always been that even with the best available hardware and software, the BEMS is only as good as the person who installed and programmed it on day one.

There is certainly a shortage of good BEMS engineers and controls technicians but the dominance of BACnet, providing plug-and-play hardware – together with open-source configuration and analysis tools – means that engineers’ and technicians’ time can be much more productive and added-value functions are much easier to implement. Good services are provided by the best of Oak Island Heating & Air Conditioning specialists.

Facilities managers no longer need to fear being stuck with a rigidly-defined BEMS from a single supplier as the ultimate specification is limited only by their imagination. A simple BEMS starting solution for one building can be progressively expanded in terms of scope and versatility across an entire organisation.

Need to integrate renewables, smart metering, carbon management, demand response, reactive maintenance etc? No problem. If you can think of an energy management task or energy saving opportunity associated with your building or estate operations, the new generation of BEMS can probably do it, probably more easily than you might think, and without the risk of drowning in data. Add components from the wider internet of things and the possibilities are limitless.

Heat Pumps — HPA’s Sherlock Argues Facts!

Richard Sherlock, Heat Pump Association (HPA) Director

Richard Sherlock, Heat Pump Association (HPA) Director

Previous comment — Once the heat pump wears out, my guess is that it will be replaced by a plug-in heater, let me suggest why. 

The HP market has grown in Ireland in response to DEAP and Part L 2011. At a BER of A3 or better, the space heat demand is so low that very little heat is required. The lifecycle cost of the HP cannot be justified in energy savings terms: the savings in energy or emissions do not justify the installation when compared with other heat sources

Reply — The heat pump market has grown for many reasons, not least the requirement for heat in buildings combined with the need for a reduction in the use of fuels such as kerosene for home heating. With over 1.5 million residential homes in Ireland, there is significant need for heat pumps in Ireland in the retrofit market.

In the new build market there will always be a heat load due to fabric losses … passive for all houses is not likely to happen in the near future (if ever). Also, ventilation losses need to be accounted for as these too have a running cost attached.

DEAP is a stylized version of a building, which takes average occupancy and makes many assumptions. It is fair to say it is hardly a living laboratory and should not be seen as such. While not intending to be critical of the Irish DEAP, the DEAP figures do not always reflect reality and should not be treated as an absolute.

For example, a C-rated house could be turned into an A-rated house purely by adding excessive PV panels though this would not be much good to the end-user who is buying oil for heating!! So not all A-rated houses are equal on running cost. DEAP does not account for running cost.

However, it does work on the basis of primary energy. It is primary energy use that we are trying to reduce overall and it must be reduced in the living real world now, and not at some future date. We must deal with today’s housing stock and building standards, and these are some of the valid reasons to install a heat pump today. A heat pump is the only heat source that is primary energy positive.

In fact, I am delighted to see heat loads reducing as this will reduce the capacity of heat pumps and thus the cost of the systems installed. All credit to the policy makers, engineers and architects for making these lower heat loads a reality for heating suppliers.

Previous comment — Compare a HP for a semi-detached house with a BER of A2 against a 2kW plug-in heater and a night rate immersion. The capital cost of each is (in order of magnitude terms) €200 for the heaters versus €10,000 for the HP. 

Reply — Comparison on a fair basis is everything in this debate. Each case must be looked at individually and not in a “broad brush” manner with indicative high prices of €10,000.

Let’s compare a HP for a semi-detached house with a BER of A2 against a 2kW plug-in heater and a night-rate immersion. The capital cost of each is (in order of magnitude terms) €200 for the heaters versus €10,000 for the HP, as per a previous contributor.

It is unclear where this cost comes from and, in the absence of some basic facts such as the size and heat load of the house being referred to, it would be hard for me to accurately cost.

However, I assume that the immersion referred to will be thermo siphon as the cost could not reflect the price of an energy efficient pump as required by European Energy Efficiency Legislation.  Perhaps this cost is not all-inclusive and the heat pump is not €10,000. In any case, with a primary energy factor for electricity in excess of 2.4 an immersion significantly increases the primary energy use and the suggestion of using the immersion rather than a heat pump runs contrary to energy conservation.

Previous comment — The only real justification for the HP is the requirement for compliance in DEAP for CO2 emissions, which is based mainly on the primary energy factor applied to mains electricity. This CPC requirement does not exist in a retrofit situation. 

Reply —  This is simply not true. Again it is worth reiterating that a heat pump is primary energy positive. In a retrofit situation huge primary energy gains can be made by using a heat pump as opposed to a boiler, and certainly against an immersion. It is fanciful to proceed with energy policy without trying to reduce the consumption of high carbon energy fuels such as kerosene.

Couple this with a primary energy factor of less than 90% for a boiler and the argument in retrofit situations for a heat pump is more than convincing. The same argument also holds true for the vast majority of new builds.

Heat pumps were offering real-value propositions long before the introduction of DEAP and trying to justify their only function as you have described is not credible and is unfounded.

Previous comment — In, say, 20 years time, when the HP needs to be replaced, the primary energy factor of mains electricity will be approaching 1.5, not 2.42 as it is now (or 2.7 as it was not so long ago). And if Ireland progresses to become a net exporter of renewable energy, the primary energy factor of mains electricity could actually go negative, particularly night-rate electricity. 

Reply — In relation to primary energy being negative I will not speculate on that which might happen, In any case the energy will be used in Europe and the primary energy reduction targets are ultimately part of European targets, If Ireland can overproduce this is great but we are not even nearly there yet.

I will base my figures on the current situation and start saving energy today.

Example: 350% efficient heat pump gives a primary energy efficiency as follows: 350/2.42 = 144.6%, Clearly better than any other heat source, especially an immersion. 20 Years is a long time and a heat source which is more than 100% primary energy efficient can play a major part in reducing energy use in Europe in this period.

Previous comment — How do you persuade that householder to pay the additional €9,800 in 2034, when the cost of the additional energy required over the subsequent 20 years for the plug-in heater will not exceed this figure, (i.e. the payback is negative)? Much better to add PV at that stage, than to replace the old HP with a new HP. Which begs the question of why not go for the PV now and avoid the HP altogether? 

Reply — Your figure of €9800 seems very high, although you’re anecdotal A2 Semi detached house does not give much away, perhaps it Is over 300m2 and has some special requirements. Payback in any case is certainly not negative, primary energy consumption and comfort must also be accounted for.

A few simple points should begin to answer to your question of why not start with PV now?

Firstly, PV is costly and of course in Winter — when the most heat Is needed — the PV is at its lowest production, causing further problems with peaking on the electrical grid. Couple this with an immersion that will place additional load on the grid than a heat pump of equal size and I think the argument is self-substantiating.

Secondly, a heat pump installed today (*taking my earlier example) gives a primary energy efficiency of 144%. Catapult forward in time to date yet to be confirmed where Ireland has a primary energy factor of 1.5, as you suggested, and the same heat pump has the following primary energy efficiency: 3.5 / 1.5 = 233%  YES!!!!! every year the heat pump saves more and more energy and reduces primary energy use further.

The inverse is true for PV as It’s net gain is less and less each year in primary energy terms, if we take it that the primary energy factor for electricity continues to get better.

Together, these two points should be reason enough to not start with PV today. I would suggest starting with a heat pump.

Previous comment — The HP blip is welcome, but is only a bridging solution. Some even see problems with the peak load it adds to the grid. 

Reply — The heat pump “blip” you refer to started over 50 years ago and has much more than 20 years left. A blip of this length is a little more than transient in terms of heating systems.

Your argument presents some conflict — if heat pumps cause problems on the grid, your suggestion of replacing them with immersions will make the problem much worse, In fact, I would suggest installing heat pumps to solve the peaking problems your immersions would cause in such a scenario.

Previous comment — It is to be hoped that DEAP will be refined several times between now and 2034, each of which will reflect more accurately the lifetime CO2 emissions of various heating systems, including their embodied CO2. Any move in that direction is likely to penalise imported, complex machinery with ongoing maintenance needs over simple resistance wires inside protective enclosures. The need to spread the load on the grid may also be tackled in DEAP with rewards for night-time only space heat and HW production via mains electricity.

Reply — DEAP, I assume, will be constantly reviewed but should not be the only measure used. If a heat pump is an imported high-maintenance machine with high embodied carbon, there is then little hope for boilers as they are in the main imported, require ongoing maintenance and, in terms of  life-cycle, use more energy and produce more carbon than a heat pump as they are primary energy negative. When making the argument for life-cycle costs the heat pump is stronger, not weaker.I welcome moves In this direction.

By your analogy of penalties for embodied carbon, life-cycle, CO2 emissions and high maintenance, I fear our biggest problem is the death of the motor car and not the heat pump!

Previous comment — By 2034, I suspect you could be putting 0.8 in the PE factor box, especially if you have a heating system supplied from a HWC/heat store heated by night-rate wind energy.

Reply — I am not convinced the wind will blow evenly at night and so we will not need to compensate peaking problems with fossil fuel burning power station. This is an argument perhaps best not debated here but it should be considered nonetheless.

However, it is worth mentioning that, in any case, the heat pump in any scenario will be more primary energy efficient than an immersion and thus a better option for energy efficiency. Many heat pumps are smart grid ready and can be directly linked to PV where required.

Further to this, they can be coupled to thermal stores and can help in smoothing power production through smart grid adaptability. This is another example of manufacturers being ahead of national infrastructure, and indeed European infrastructure.

It is best to deal with today’s problems in relation to the reduction of primary energy while working towards a sustainable future. Heat pumps do, and will continue to, play a major role in the reduction of primary energy use, and in the reduction of CO2 emissions at a national and European level.

While I would be delighted to enter 2034 with a housing stock of over 1.5m passive houses, even wind speed and predictable user behavior, I will for the moment take comfort in the fact that at least until then heat pumps will form a part of the future of heating in Ireland and Europe as a whole.