PassivSystems completes first installation phase for ‘Freedom – future of energy’ hybrid heating project, targeting £1.3bn annual savings by 2030

First collaborative future of energy project will provide hybrid gas-electric heating systems in 75 Bridgend homes in readiness for smart energy system trials.

PassivSystems has installed more than half of the planned 75 hybrid heating systems in private and social housing properties in Bridgend, South Wales as part of a £5.2m innovation project designed to prove the economic benefits of providing a flexible choice between fuels for heating.

Designing heating systems that combine gas boilers with air source heat pumps (ASHP), while employing smart switching between the gas and electric load, enables the choice of fuels to match consumer demand for heat. This highly flexible approach allows the heating system to take advantage of time-of-use price differences between the two fuels – so-called ‘fuel arbitrage’.

Hybrid heating systems can help householders save money on heating and hot water bills while supporting the shift towards the decarbonisation of heat. Avoiding the use of electricity during times of peak demand will help reduce the need for further investment in generation capacity. Initial modelling outputs from Imperial College London suggest that the UK energy system could save £1.3bn annually by 2030 as a result of installing hybrid heating systems in preference to all-electric air-source heat pumps.

“A vision of the future of heating is emerging,” said Colin Calder, chief executive of PassivSystems. “The gas boiler is going to be around for a number of years. This hybrid approach has the potential to make the best use of the hot water delivery appliances currently installed in most UK housing stock. Using gas boilers alongside air source heat pumps, with some intelligent switching between the two, gives us a pragmatic pathway to decarbonising heat. In the future, we will have options to use green gases to deploy ‘hybrid green’ systems.”

PassivSystems is leading the day-to-day project management, development of control algorithms, designing the architecture of the smart switching system, overseeing the recruitment of homes and the procurement and installation of hybrid heating systems. The project’s principal funders are Western Power Distribution, the electricity distribution network operator and Wales & West Utilities, the gas distribution network operator.

The Freedom project’s hybrid heating system includes an exterior air source heat pump, a reliable, high-efficiency gas boiler inside the home, and a hybrid control panel that enables switching between the two heat sources to automatically use the most cost-effective heating mode at any time of the day or night. There are no further modifications or interruptions required in customer properties.

PassivSystems will monitor the performance of the hybrid systems during the 2017/18 heating ‘season’ to evaluate the potential for energy savings and reducing carbon emissions. Initial estimates suggest a 35% reduction in carbon emissions for a small home.

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