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Solar installations will get another boost from the RHI


Air source heat pumps should be eligible for the RHI from 2012, according to DECC


Up on the roof


The RHI will encourage installation of equipment such as solar thermal panels, biomass boilers and ground- and water-source heat pumps to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions


So, if there is any roof space left after clients have filled every available square inch with solar PV, what should contractors expect from solar thermal systems? There are two types of solar water heating systems,


direct and indirect. With direct systems, the water flowing in the collector tubes is the same as the water circulating in the water tank and coming out of the taps. With indirect systems, the heat transfer fluid circulating around the system does not come into direct contact with the water in the tank or coming out of the taps. Domestic water heating schemes consist of solar collectors, pump, control unit, connecting pipes, backup heat source, such as gas or electric heater, and a water tank. With indirect systems, a pre-heat tank will also be required. Alternatively, a single coil hot water tank can be replaced with a twin coil tank removing the need for a preheat tank. The collectors are mounted on the roof, ideally at an angle of about 30 degrees facing due south. Approximate generation will range from around 900 kWh/m2


1250 kWh/m2


per year in the north of Scotland, to around in the south-west of England.


There will be some issues similar issues as to when working on solar PV installations: make sure that panels are properly fixed to the building structure; watch out for their weight; and make sure you maintain weather resistance. Working with materials at height is dangerous – make sure you have adequate training. (Thanks to the Renewable Energy Association: www.r-e-a.net)


include the domestic sector,’ comments Paul Reeve, head of environment at the ECA. ‘The delay is simply going to stall a lot of potential investment domestically.’


Positive reaction Despite this omission, the plans have been received positively by many in the in the industry. ‘This novel policy should be much more effective than capital grants, as it rewards the production of renewable heat, not just the installation of equipment,’ says Gaynor Hartnell, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association. ‘It is a revolutionary approach, but absolutely the right one. We don’t expect the scheme to be 100 per cent perfect from the outset, but we will work with government to iron out any teething problems.’ BEAMA marketing director Kelly Butler provides some


perspective: ‘The renewable heat industry needed a good news story, and a new incentive is just what is required, but the devil is in the detail, and long-term confidence is needed. In principle, a Year One premium payment is an excellent theoretical bridge until the tariffs have been fully determined for domestic applications, but will customers see it as enough, or will they need to know the tariff levels applicable from 2012? ‘Anyone selling heat pumps now has to sell a premium


payment (more or less the level of grants that were available until 2009) with an unspecified tariff return from 2012. The projected market in the coming year for heat pumps is around 20,000 installations, and with government planning to fund all technologies up to around 25,000 homes, we need to keep a level head about what the market uptake will be.’


Up in the air Air source heat pump manufacturers will no doubt be


24 ECA Today May 2011


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