Hybrid heating systems that use smart controls could save up to £1.7 billion annually says PassivSystems

Call made for a well-defined policy framework for deploying greater volumes of low-carbon heating in the UK

Since 2014, PassivSystems has played a significant role in four out of five innovative UK smart heat pump projects highlighted by Delta Energy & Environment Limited (Delta-ee) by installing its PassivLiving home energy platform to measure, manage and aggregate heat energy.

Data published by Delta-ee shows the potential value domestic heat pumps could have in bringing more renewable heating into the home, while helping to balance the demands made on our electricity grid.

PassivSystems is identifying ways of increasing knowledge about heat pumps and the future role they will play in integrating with renewable energy production and increasing flexibility of the grid. Estimates indicate that up to 38% savings in heat pump running costs could be achieved using a differential tariff such as the Economy 10 electricity plan.

Colin Calder, chief executive of PassivSystems, commented: “Three of the four projects PassivSystems has been involved with have now concluded. The results from Delta-ee show us that the electrification of heat has a significant role to play in decarbonising domestic heat. In one of our most recent projects, we have learned that hybrid heating systems actually lower carbon intensity compared with a heat pump only solution, and their flexibility could save between £1.2 billion – 1.7 billion[1] annually by avoiding extra investment in generation and transmission infrastructure. These historic and ongoing smart heat pump projects prove that the technology to help achieve this goal works and is available today.”

Calder continued: “As we move towards a low-carbon economy, it’s clear that what the industry needs is a well-defined policy framework under which the UK can start deploying greater volumes of low-carbon heating, enabling a better understanding of how this market will evolve.”

Dr Andrew Turton, principal analyst for Delta-ee, said: “Hybrid heat pumps will be a key technology in the drive to deliver decarbonisation of heating in the UK at an affordable price.  Innovation in controls and optimisation, developed by companies such as PassivSystems, provides an important building block in this transition. Such developments are enabling hybrids to deliver comfort and cost benefits to customers, whilst supporting the wider gas and electricity networks and facilitating cost effective national decarbonisation.”

Open standards

One of the barriers to wider deployment of smart heat pump technology is the lack of a standardised control interface. Many heat pump manufacturers today have ambitions to provide smart heat pump controls, but these often end up as high-end accessories that are perceived as complicated and costly. The reality is that most new heat pumps are installed with low-cost and low-capability timers and thermostats originally designed for boilers. Unfortunately, these can have a negative impact on the system efficiency. PassivSystems is calling for an open-standard interface that allows heat pumps to be tuned to a home’s thermal properties and meet the individual requirements of homeowners.

According to Delta-ee, a country partner for the International Energy Agency (IEA), smart heat pump control technology will add significant value to the electricity market and to consumers as flexible energy tariffs are introduced and more distributed energy assets are deployed throughout the UK.

For more information, visit www.passivsystems.com

[1] Imperial College London – Methodology for whole-system assessment of the impact of hybrid heat pumps on power system (January 2017)