Building Services News l July/August 2019
HEAT PUMPS Given the recent publication of the Government’s Climate Action Plan, and especially the signiﬁcance and importance placed on heat pumps, Editor Pat Lehane had a face-to-face interview with Tom Halpin (below), Head of Communications at the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), to discuss the challenges posed, and incentives available. SEAI is funded by Government through the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and is responsible for the roll-out and administration of the many support schemes, including the heat pump grant, designed to help achieve the plan’s objectives.
INSTALLERS – 300,000 HOMES ALREADY HEAT PUMP READY PL: Heat pumps have been mooted as the way forward for a number of years now. How, speciﬁcally, do they ﬁt in to Ireland’s Climate Action Plan? TH: The Government’s Climate Action Plan 2019: To Tackle Climate Breakdown states: “The accelerating impact of greenhouse gas emissions on climate disruption must be arrested and the window of opportunity to act is fast closing, but Ireland is way off course. Decarbonisation is now a must if the world is to contain the damage and build resilience in the face of such a profound challenge.” In 2017, roughly a third of Ireland’s ﬁnal energy use was used for heating, but less than 7% of that energy came from renewable sources, a combination of biomass, biogas and solar thermal. So, as we transition to lower-carbon pathways, we must ensure the introduction of heat pumps and other low-carbon solutions in new residential and commercial buildings. The plan sets ambitious targets to reach around 600,000 renewable energy heating sources (e.g. heat pumps) in residential buildings by 2030, and around 25,000 systems in commercial premises. PL: Everyone within the industry accepts the beneﬁts of heat pump technology, especially for new-build. However, how do they fare in a retroﬁt situation?
Tom Halpin edit.indd 2
TH: Heat pump systems operate most efﬁciently and effectively when generating heat at a lower temperature. For that reason, one of the grant qualifying requirements for a home is that it must have a low heat loss (deﬁned in detail in the scheme guidance). Some homes may already be at the required performance level. Others with good insulation and glazing may only need modest upgrades. However, a home with poor insulation and single glazing may need a more substantial upgrade. Separate to the building’s ability to keep the heat in is the suitability of the home’s existing pipework and radiators. The contractor will need to complete a thorough assessment of the room dimensions, from which they will derive the heating needs and the correct radiator sizes. Some or all of the existing radiators may need to be replaced. PL: With new-build numbers representing a very small percentage of the retroﬁt potential, how many existing homes are heat pumpready? TH: We estimate that around 300,000 homes in the country are already heat pump ready, that is homes with sufﬁciently low heat loss that they require no additional upgrades. Even beyond that tranche of homes many more may only require modest upgrades to get them over the line.
Ireland's only dedicated building services journal and the official organ of CIBSE Ireland