Water Industry Warned That Covid-19 Could Be Here For Years


A warning has been issued to the water industry by the founder and chairman of tech and innovation consultancy Isle Utilities that Covid-19 could potentially be around for two to three years until a vaccine has been found and more than three billion people vaccinated.

Speaking at British Water’s Better Together video conference at the start of May, Dr Piers Clark – who is heading up a global Covid-19 sector-wide collaboration initiative over WhatsApp – explained that resurgence of the virus around the world was likely and could be seen in waves that last between ten and 20 weeks, depending on the extent and severity of lockdown measures, WWT Online reports.

He went on to say that the water industry has an important role to play, with monitoring of sewerage systems providing a rapid early detection method for identifying community outbreaks of the virus, leading to targeted lockdowns.

“We’ve had a dedicated team working on this, pulling out the best information that’s available from all around the world.  At a macro level, the evidence is becoming increasingly strong that this virus is going to be with us for years,” Dr Clark went on to say.

The Better Together virtual calls were organised by British Water in response to the pandemic, giving members the opportunity to gain insights on how the crisis is affecting the industry, as well as finding ways to best support the sector.

Lila Thompson, chief executive of British Water, said: “The insights we receive from our Better Together speakers are highly valued by British Water members, which is why more and more are joining us each week.

“Conversations have moved to how companies are now planning ahead to ensure they can emerge from this crisis in a strong position, while preparing themselves for potential resurgences.”

Earlier this month (May), Bangor University researchers began looking into how analysing sewage could help predict a second peak of coronavirus up to two weeks before people become symptomatic.

According to the BBC, the team have been looking at samples from Welsh water treatment works to trace how many people have been infected, with people shedding the virus in faeces up to two weeks before symptoms become apparent. Norovirus has been tracked through the sewage system in the past.

Professor Davey Jones of the School of Natural Sciences explained that this is an effective way of tracing viruses, in part because it is possible to capture data on most of the population simply and cost-effectively.

In Wales, around 75 per cent of the population were connected to 21 Welsh Water-operated individual treatment plants and Mr Jones went on to say that it is possible to see if different parts of the country have different regions being infected by different viral strains by assessing the genetic code of the virus.

Are you looking for help and advice relating to wastewater management at the moment? Get in touch with us today.

West Mercia Energy and Birmingham City Council; One year on …

In 2018, Birmingham City Council (BCC) appointed West Mercia Energy (WME) as their new gas and electricity framework provider. They opted for WME’s Procurement Only service provision with the contract commencing on the 1st April 2019. We caught up with BCC to review the first year of their new contract.

Switching suppliers on large complex portfolios can be challenging. How was your experience of the transfer process?

BCC has a significant portfolio, well in excess of 2,000 supplies, including corporate sites, streetlighting and schools, so managing this this was understandably our biggest apprehension in changing suppliers.

The management of this process was excellent. An ‘onboarding plan’ was put in place at the very beginning and regular progress meetings took place between all relevant parties.

Once the transfer application process began, we were provided with regular progress reports throughout. In summary, the whole onboarding process was a success, which is no mean feat when you consider the size and complexity of our energy portfolio.

What have been the key benefits to BCC since the move to WME?

WME has brought a range of benefits to us as a Council, but also to our considerable number of contracted schools. We are particularly pleased with the comprehensive budgetary information provided throughout the year which helps us inform our schools of their upcoming budgets. We receive final pricing well in advance of the new FY, this despite us running more than one trading strategy for our portfolio.

In addition, we receive regular MIS reporting from the framework supplier, Total Gas and Power (TGP), which helps us manage our portfolio more thoroughly, particularly our school sites. Billing is timely and accurate, and queries are managed and resolved in a timely manner by a dedicated CRM team.

What has been the biggest challenges to overcome in the first year of working with WME?

The biggest challenge was getting the portfolio in a position to transfer. Managing a large public sector portfolio can be difficult to keep on top of with the high churn of buildings being removed and added to the portfolio all of the time. We have a large number of schools who utilise the Councils corporate contract and checking key school contacts took some time and resource.

What advice would you give other Public Bodies considering switching providers?

Do not just stick with your incumbent framework provider / energy supplier because that is who you have always used. There may be better out there.

In addition, ensure you have a good grip on your starting portfolio. An accurate list of meter numbers, site addresses etc. Billing addresses and AQ’s are also really important. Where we had gaps, WME and TGP were extremely helpful in sourcing information from national databases, liaising with our incumbent suppliers and supporting us in any way they could to gather any missing information.

How have you found the support from the WME framework supplier, Total Gas and Power?

TGP have been excellent. They have been ever present at meetings and their suite of reporting provides everything we need to manage our portfolio. It is clear that they have an excellent relationship with WME, with each having clear and defined roles to successfully deliver the contract. This has no doubt aided the successful implementation of our new energy contract.

Finally, would you recommend West Mercia Energy to other public sector organisations?

Absolutely. The support we have received from the day we signed the contract to date has been excellent. WME are a personable and proactive company and nothing we have asked of them has been too much. They have gone above and beyond our expectations of what is required to support our contract. We are surprised at the level of support provided under a ‘Procurement Only’ service provision.

They provide a high quality and professional energy provision and the service we have received from both them, and their framework supplier, Total Gas & Power has been first class. We have no hesitation in recommending WME to other public sector organisations.

Gavin Owen, Business Development Manager for West Mercia Energy added “We are delighted with the feedback received from our first year working with Birmingham City Council, the largest Local Authority in the UK. It is a testament to the hard work of all involved to date“.

West Mercia Energy is a leading purchasing organisation jointly owned by four Local Authorities. With over 25 years’ experience successfully managing energy contracts for the public sector, WME specialise in managing large multi-site portfolios throughout the public sector working with Local Authorities, Town & District Councils, Blue Light Services, circa 2,000 education establishments and the NHS.

While BCC opted for WME’s ‘Procurement Only’ service, the majority of WME’s customers opt for their Fully Managed service provision. In addition to OJEU compliant frameworks and risk managed energy procurement, this offering includes bill validation, siteworks, account management, energy monitoring platforms amongst much more.

If you would like to speak to WME about their range of service options, please contact Gavin Owen, Business Development Manager. gowen@westmerciaenergy.co.uk www.westmerciaenergy.co.uk

Rinnai announces social distancing aids & app for installers on site, free audits on hot water needs, spares kits, Legionella procedures and continues full support for Essential Works


Rinnai gears up with social distancing innovation and continues full support services to all essential works – NHS facilities, care homes, schools, and supermarkets – and restart industries

Rinnai is introducing new services centred on social distancing for installers – in addition to continuing its dedicated operational support to Essential Works, plus the provision of FREE audits on hot water supply systems and technical guidance on legionella testing for bringing systems back into service.

The new social distancing aids from Rinnai, allows remote viewing of plant rooms used via an App on any standard iPhone or Android simply by clicking a link. It allows the installer and Rinnai, in real time, to view a site and plant room to provide the best solutions for hot water delivery.

Another innovation is the ‘Help Me Choose’ facility – simply visit www.rinnaiuk.com and follows the instructions related to your projects and the company will respond with a full specification.

Provided there is a constant supply of gas and water the Rinnai units are guaranteed to supply temperature accurate hot water in unlimited quantities for all hygiene regimes in all types of healthcare sites or temporary accommodation.

Tony Gittings, for Rinnai, has also pointed out that, ‘We can also offer a number of other services such as a system health, Legionella procedures, commissioning advice and much more.’

The Rinnai services for restart and continued essential works are: –

  • Service and system health checks readily available
  • Restart kits are readily available
  • Spares stock – readily available
  • Rinnai’s Runcorn UK HQ emergency weekend opening and sales support – open for any emergency / essential equipment provision of new units and for spares.
  • Weekend operational & technical support help line – simply call 01928 531870 and select sales and if the call is not answered immediately leave a voicemail and the company will respond within an hour.
  • Collection of new units/spares from Runcorn HQ for Saturday and Sunday. All will adopt ‘safe distancing’ in any contact for this or deliveries.
  • Emergency delivery on working days and weekends / out of hours – under “essential works” circumstances and, where possible, Rinnai will readily offer a delivery service to site.
  • Out of hours and weekend technical support – installers, site managers, contractors and all end-users simply call 01928 531870 select technical and if the call is not answered immediately leave a voicemail. Response will be within one hour between 0800 – 22:30 / 7 days a week. This means that there be a technical response every day of the week.

Rinnai’s complete range of hot water heating units are available for next day delivery on orders placed before the previous mid-day.

All Rinnai units give instant and constant flows of hot water for hygiene and cleaning use in all healthcare, care homes, supermarkets, food manufacture and mobile hygiene, including any new or planned sites.

Installers and sites can speak to the company direct via the contact points below –

Call 01928 531 870 or email engineer@rinnaiuk.com and sales@rinnaiuk.com, alternatively use the smart online contact points “Help Me Choose” or “Ask Us a Question”, all held on the website homepage at www.rinnaiuk.com

For more information on the RINNAI product range visit www.rinnaiuk.com

BCIA releases new Technical Guide: The Impact of Controls on the Energy Efficiency of Buildings


The Building Controls Industry Association (BCIA) has released a new Technical Guide to add to its portfolio of online Guides available to download.

The new Guide, entitled “The Impact of Controls on the Energy Efficiency of Buildings”, focuses on the British and European standard, BS EN 15232-1:2017, which assesses the cumulative impact of building automation and controls – commonly referred to as BACS – on the energy efficiency of buildings.

Terry Sharp, President of the BCIA, said: “It is a well-documented fact that buildings account for over 40% of global energy consumption, and buildings rarely perform as well as their designers calculated. BCIA member companies use the BS EN 15232 Standard as a guiding light for control system design and operation, so we have released this Technical Guide to help manufacturers and systems integrators understand the Standard better and improve the performance of the buildings they work on.”

The BCIA’s Technical Guides are designed to help members and those in the building controls and BEMS industry work more effectively. All Technical Guides can be downloaded from the “Resources” section of the BCIA website. www.bcia.co.uk

Ventilation to play a critical role in re-opening of UK businesses

A leading ventilation specialist has urged businesses to consider the role that ventilation can play in maximising the health and safety of employees as they return to work.

Alan Macklin, Technical Director at Elta Group and Chairman of the Fan Manufacturer’s Association (FMA), has drawn attention to the critical role that ventilation will play as the UK begins transitioning out of lockdown. With many workspaces having been unoccupied for a prolonged period of time, guidance has been issued by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) on how to optimise ventilation as buildings reopen1.

Recommendations include to purge ventilate for two hours before and after occupancy, and to maintain trickle ventilation even when the building is not occupied i.e. overnight. As many systems have been inactive for several months, a thorough and strategic approach must be adopted to ensure the health and safety of employees.

Alan comments: “For several years, there has been a focus on increasing the energy efficiency of commercial spaces. While this is understandable and important in its own right, it has all-too-often been at the expense of both building and occupant health, with increasingly air-tight structures leading to a reduction in indoor air quality (IAQ).

“Following the devastating impact of the COVID-19 crisis, there must now be a focus on health and good IAQ in workspaces. By following the guidance on how to use ventilation systems effectively after a period of inactivity, businesses can contribute to a healthier working environment for employees.”

Ongoing research into the transmission of COVID-19 has highlighted another facet of indoor air that could impact occupant health – relative humidity levels. That’s because alongside a number of health concerns, such as asthma or skin irritation, evidence suggests that dry indoor air can result in higher rates of infection transmission.

Alan continues: “Finding the optimum relative humidity level can be challenging, because if it goes too far the other way and air is too humid, it can cause health problems of its own. Research into this area has been accelerated as a result of the coronavirus, and there is currently a general consensus that between 40-60% humidity is optimum for occupant health.

“It’s important to stress that we still don’t know enough about the virus to make definitive recommendations. However, the pause in activity necessitated by the lockdown has presented us with the opportunity to re-set our ventilation priorities, and gear it towards optimising the health of both the structure and its occupants. By adopting a measured approach to the re-opening of buildings, and using ventilation systems effectively, we can ensure that our air is as safe and healthy as possible.”

For more information, please visit: https://eltagroup.com/

1 https://www.ashrae.org/about/news/2020/ashrae-offers-covid-19-building-readiness-reopening-guidance

Charging Ahead on the Road to Zero Emissions

Richard Baker, CEO of GeoSpock

The UK transport sector contributes more to carbon emissions than any other. It’s therefore no surprise that the government is encouraging more people to switch to electric vehicles (EVs). In February, the UK government brought forward their ban on new petrol, diesel or hybrid cars from 2040 to 2035, paving the way for greater adoption of hybrids and EVs that run on cleaner energy.  

However, it is not that simple – the EV transition strategy lacks a few crucial pieces. 

Deloitte has estimated that the global EV market will reach a tipping point by 2022, when the cost of ownership of an electric vehicle will be on par with the internal combustion engine (ICE). Unfortunately, it could also result in a supply gap of almost 14 million EVs in 2030, undermining government efforts.  

The aim is clear – moving toward the electrification of the private and public road transport sectors. However, there’s still a long way to go and many things to consider.

Complexities of a national charging infrastructure 

In January 2020, a new Ipsos Global study revealed that consumers ranked the location and availability of charging stations as one of the biggest barriers to EV adoption. To address this, the Conservative government made a £500 million election commitment to expand the ‘fast-charging network’. This could lead to a substantial improvement from the 15,500 chargers / 26,500 plugs which are present, according to Zapmap. However, compare that to the 8,400 fuel stations and 68,000 pumps currently in the UK, and we have a better understanding of the current situation.

If we accept that the number of charging stations has to increase, and that the government is reacting, we must consider their location. Choosing the best sites are complex due to competing factors such as local grid constraints and EV ownership density. Unlike traditional refilling at petrol stations, it’s not a one-size-fits-all system. The type of charge point best suited to each location will depend on the profile of each area and the driving habits of EV users within it.  

The wide range of charging speeds, and potentially long recharge times, means EV charging infrastructure needs to fit alongside existing driving behaviours and activities. If, for example, the majority of EV drivers prefer to charge up their vehicles while they do Saturday’s shopping in a particular district, then that is vital data for charge point locations.  

Charge points as data goldmines 

Operational data on charging – such as time of day, charge duration, the amount of power delivered and what type of connector was used – is now collected in conjunction with commercial data related to payment methods and transaction amounts. In addition, modern EVs are far more digitally enabled than traditional vehicles, constantly recording high volumes of additional spatial data during the day. 

Taking into account all the different variables makes it a delicate balancing act to decide what the demands are for drivers – whether visiting any given neighbourhood supermarket or central business district car park now, or in the future. That’s where the power of geospatial data will help. This can highlight unique usage patterns in specific areas and shed light on which is the best route to take when it comes to EV infrastructure investment. Once you have a clear picture of charging use and behaviour in a particular location, you can remove a lot of the guesswork from charging infrastructure decisions. 

The “overpowered” elephant in the room  

We are in the energy age – every nation is looking to fill the void left by fossil fuels and make efficient, future-proof decisions. As EVs become more widespread, electrical demand will grow and, on current estimations, outstrip the capacity of local power grids. This in turn will force EV charging networks to compete with each other in infrastructure projects for electricity. 

There is also concern over electrifying public transport. UK buses and trains are due a complete overhaul, purely from an efficiency standpoint. Factor in electrification, and the public transport network needs huge and ongoing investment if it is to meet modern and future demands. 

The UK government has set bold and welcome plans for EVs. It is the first step in making the UK transport industry fit for purpose. However, simply banning or phasing out old, inefficient vehicles and expecting private companies to develop new technology to fill the void will not suffice. 

We need to make decisions that will benefit us, not just for the here and now, but for the unforeseeable future. Building charging points is to be lauded, but what happens if the technology is made redundant, or if public habits change? Instead, the government must look to invest in data, creating a holistic transport hub to understand activity and trends in the industry. Only then can we make informed, real-time decisions and ensure the national move to electrification is moving forward in the most efficient and flexible way possible.


Microgrids: The future of UK energy?


Britain experienced its biggest blackout in more than a decade this summer due to two power plant outages, leaving almost a million homes across the country in the dark. Because of this, the energy watchdog and the government have raised concerns about the grid’s ability to cope with changing energy needs and demands. Here, Alan Binning, Regional Sales Manager at energy software developer, COPA-DATA, explains how microgrids could help.

A microgrid is a small-scale power grid that can operate independently or collaboratively with other areas of the grid. Combining a range of generation sources with energy storage and intelligent load management, microgrids are hailed as the solution to providing reliable, economic and environmentally friendly power supply.

Historically, microgrids were associated with remote power supply – providing electricity to developing nations or extremely rural locations. However, the potential applications of microgrids spread much further. According to a report by Navigant Research, there are 4,475 identified microgrid projects in proposal, planning and deployed stages, in a variety of different applications.

Don’t believe the hype? You should. The popularity of microgrids can be largely correlated with their potential to lower electricity prices for businesses. In fact, microgrids are estimated to save between 21 and 30 per cent on current energy costs, while reducing peak power requirements.

This is particularly important for organisations that need a high level of energy reliability, such as data centres or hospitals. For these businesses, a microgrids ability to operate independently from the larger grid — sometimes referred to as island mode — is invaluable.

Businesses owning their own generation assets can also benefit from improved energy security compared to being reliant on the larger grid. Known as demand side response, in companies attached to the national grid can be asked to reduce their energy consumption. This would not be a problem if the business is running on its own micro generation.

Microgrids can empower the user, but what’s the benefit to the larger electricity grid?

When the grid is in crisis, like Britain‘s summer blackout, microgrids can help to react to unexpected demand peaks. That said, Summer 2018 may have provided a better example. Following Croatia’s 109th minute goal during the World Cup semi-final, it is safe to hypothesise that many England fans may have immediately flicked on the kettle to drown their sorrows in a good old brew. Or, perhaps more plausibly, simultaneously fired up thousands of the nation’s pub cash registers.

During this moment, the grid will suddenly experience a surge in power demand, but not necessarily a surge in power supply. If the supply isn’t available, that’s where microgrids can sell excess energy back to the grid.

Sounds complicated, but microgrid software means it doesn’t have to be. zenon, COPA-DATA’s software platform, makes automated operation of microgrids easy. The local operator who is monitoring the microgrid would be able to provide excess energy during these periods of peak demand— balancing generation from intermittent renewable power sources with distributed, controllable generation and storage. Not to mention fulfilling England fans need for a little pick-me-up.

With the growing favourability of renewable generation sources, microgrids offer a more controllable, reliable and highly flexible solution to Britain’s fluctuating energy problem. Those looking at microgrid projects could benefit by looking outside of the traditional distribution management solutions, at platforms like zenon, that can better scale to suit these applications. Enhancing grid resilience, microgrids can help the main energy grid recover from system outages, either indirectly, by sustaining services needed by restoration crews, or directly, by helping to re-energise the macrogrid.

Either way, microgrids will be the future, helping to keep Britain’s lights on in a cost effective, environmentally friendly way.

For more information on COPA-DATA and how zenon can be used for distributed energy management, please visit the COPA-DATA website at www.copadata.com.

2020 Construction Trends: Smart Fifth Generation District Heating


Matthew Trewhella, Managing Director of Kensa Contracting

The UK Government recently committed to a 2050 net zero carbon target in an effort to limit the worst effects of global warming. With the introduction of a Future Homes Standard mandating the end of fossil-fuel heating systems in all new build homes from 2025, house-builders, planning, and building control are in a prime position to encourage low-carbon developments utilising eco-friendly building techniques and innovations in renewable technology to achieve our carbon ambitions.

Lowering Carbon

The Future Homes Standard, effectively the follow up to the “ban the gas boiler” announcement, sets out what we can expect from our buildings from 2025. And how we are going to get there is notably the “transitional arrangements” in the proposed Future Homes Standard, which could see an almost overnight ban on oil, LPG and electric as soon as mid 2020; under the Standard gas will get much harder and heat pumps many times easier to introduce into new-build homes.

The proposed new SAP calculation is intended to allow assessment of the effects of the Future Homes Consultation proposed options. One of the headline grabbing proposals in SAP 10.1 is the proposed carbon factor for electricity at 0.136 – this will mean ground source heat pumps have carbon factors of 0.030 – 0.045 compared to a gas boiler at 0.23. That’s a saving of more than 80% in carbon emissions just by switching heating to ground source heat pumps.

With lots of councils across the country declaring climate emergencies, many of which commit to carbon neutral targets ahead of the UK’s 2050 ambition, a growing number of new build developments are already embracing the low-carbon approach.

In adherence to the Committee for Climate Change’s recommendation that homes should make use of low-carbon sources of heating, in particular electrically-powered heat pumps that produce no point-of-use emissions, and the new National Design Guide, which singles out ground source heat pumps and district heating systems as recommended heating technology, Bristol is witness to a number of new build schemes utilising this ultra-low carbon, non-air polluting, and low-cost heating solution to support its 2030 carbon neutral pledge.

133 new homes at Ashton Rise are being built by Bristol City Council using the high efficiency Sig iHouse solution, and heated by individual Kensa ground source heat pumps connected to a shared ground loop array of boreholes. The installation would see each home making lifetime carbon savings of 30 tonnes compared to individual gas boilers, whilst also removing all local NOx emissions, ensuring local air quality is not impacted by the choice of heating system.

Across the city, a further 50 affordable homes are being constructed to PassivHaus standards by United Living in partnership with United Communities and the Bristol Community Land Trust. The energy efficient ‘self-finish’ properties will each feature a mini Kensa Shoebox ground source heat pump connected to an ambient shared ground loop array. Complementing the low-carbon ground source heat pumps will be a MVHR (mechanical vented heat recovery) system, making the homes even more energy efficient and further lowering fuel bills for the residents. The homes will be constructed using a single skin Porotherm block, cutting construction time and delivering improved thermal properties over traditional construction. Solar PV panels further reduce costs, whilst supporting a green transport plan which features electric car charging points, a car share scheme and improved pedestrian and cycle access. Communal green space around the homes is also being created with a dedicated and protected green corridor for biodiversity and wildlife including bats, birds, bees and other insects.

Evidently the push by local planning authorities to place energy efficiency and carbon saving requirements on buildings that go beyond the requirements of the national building regulations is resulting in some ground-breaking ultra-low carbon, energy efficient developments. Two notable examples are:

  1. Bristol City Council require developers to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% and to follow a heat hierarchy that encourages renewable and low carbon heating.
  2. The Greater London Authority requires developers to reduce CO2 emissions for new developments by 35% (10% must be from fabric improvements) compared to current building regulations.

The Future Homes Standard consultation proposes reductions of 20% (option 1) or 31% (option 2) in CO2 emissions for all new dwellings, nation-wide. However, it is also consulting on whether to remove the ability for local planning departments to impose deeper reductions via the planning process. This threatens the planning process being a major influence to impact CO2 emissions and achieve the UKs zero carbon targets.

The London Energy Transformation Initiative (LETI) views the Standards proposals for Part L 2020 as a backward step ‘in a climate where we need a huge leap forward’, stating that ‘local authorities will lose the ability to meet their climate emergency zero carbon commitments if they are stripped of their powers to go above and beyond the new Part L’. Whilst the Future Homes Standard offers many significant highlights, the lowlight of lower carbon compliance targets is troubling. Kensa has addressed these in its response to the consultation, which is currently under review.

Ground Source Heat Pumps

By connecting new developments to a ‘fifth generationshared ground loop array feeding individual ground source heat pumps in each new home, housebuilders are not only delivering a sustainable infrastructure to rival and replace the gas grid, they are providing a long-term low-cost low-carbon heating, and cooling, solution.

The rapid recent decarbonisation of the electricity grid and the high efficiency of ground source heat pumps now means that this route to the large scale electrification of heating shows significantly more promise than the decarbonisation of the gas grid. Let’s explore three innovations which coupled with ground source heat pumps will enable this rapid transformation to take place.

Smart Controls

There is a slightly unfortunate trend towards calling anything that is Wifi enabled “Smart”. While it might be more convenient to program a thermostat using your phone/tablet rather than pressing buttons on the thermostat, it is hard to see why this deserves to be called Smart. For a system to be truly smart, it should perform optimisation autonomously – with minimal input from users.

If done correctly, the smart revolution could be the essential key to a lower carbon future. Management of the electrical grid with variable demands has never been simpler – consider the classic Coronation Street ending rush for the kettle. A further level of complexity is added by the variability of renewable generation supply from wind, solar, wave and tidal.

The traditional solution would be to build additional generating capacity to over-produce and then turn off when not needed. However, the stable source temperature of ground source heat pumps make them well suited to running when the grid can best support it.

If properly synchronised, smart control of millions of devices such as ground source heat pumps, electric vehicles and many others will allow the grid to function correctly without the need for over generation. Combined with the low electricity consumption of ground source heat pumps, this will save billions of pounds of capital investment in future generating capacity.

Consumers will also benefit as smart metering is giving suppliers the ability to charge consumers different prices at different times of day to reflect the availability of energy. Smart controls will allow householders to automatically take advantage of these dynamic tariffs to run their ground source heat pumps when prices are lowest – our modelling shows savings of 25-40% are achievable right now. Better still, lower priced times of day typically coincide with lower carbon grid electricity.


Warmer summers, improved insulation, larger windows and urban heat islands are combining to increase the need for cooling, which is unhelpful in the fight against climate change. Traditional air conditioning actually makes the situation worse because all the heat taken out of the buildings is pumped into the air around the city, which exacerbates the need for cooling.

A ground array with an ambient temperature district heating loop makes an excellent source of cooling – the by-product of extracting heat from the ground all winter is a large area of pre-chilled ground which is conveniently piped to each property (heat pump). Passive cooling can therefore be provided at the extremely low cost of running a small circulating pump. Even better, the heat that you take out of each property is reintroduced into the ground, which improves the heat pump heating efficiency the following winter.

For properties that need even more cooling, it is simple to reverse the heat pump hydraulic flows so that the heat pump actively cools the property and sends the waste heat into the ground.

PV-T panels

Solar panels that combine photovoltaic (PV) cells and thermal (T) water heat exchangers have been around for a while, yet their full potential can be realised by combining them with a ground array. In summer, the ground array cools the panels from 40-50oC down to 15-25oC, which increases the efficiency of the photovoltaic panels by 15-25%. The heat taken from the panels re-charges the ground array which increases the efficiency of the heat pumps by 10-20%. Combining three renewable technologies in this way is a win-win-win, which improves the efficiency of each technology independently and results in a more efficient overall system, bill reductions and carbon reductions.


These innovations all take advantage of existing technology but combine them in ways that bring huge benefits to the decarbonisation of heat. They are ready to go and future proofed which means they can be deployed now with no regrets and their benefits will increase with time as the electricity grid evolves and decarbonises.

W: www.kensaheatpumps.com

These are the cities most prepared for the electric car takeover

As the government announced that they will be bringing forward the plan to ban the sale of conventionally powered vehicles by 2035, new research has revealed the UK could hit its target of ‘most vehicles on the road being low emission’, as early as 2034, however, Brits have major concerns about making the switch.

The research from leading car parts retailer, Euro Car Parts, looked at the UK as a whole, as well as drilling down into the capital and also the UK’s 10 most congested cities outside of London, to see how prepared they are to make the switch. 

Based on calculations that consider factors such as the population, the amount of public charging points and their increase rate since January 2019, as well as the volume of alternative fuel cars currently registered, the research revealed Southampton will be ready for the electric takeover the quickest. 

The southern city currently has 77 charging points, a 13% increase since January, alongside a relatively low population compared to other major cities and 1,023 alternative fuel cars registered. 

London has seen a 66% increase in charging points since the start of the year to almost 4,000, however due to its vast population (9m) and number of electric vehicles already on the road (123k), it still has a long way to go to be completely ready for the electric takeover. 

The graph shows the UK’s most congested cities in order of how ready they are for the electric takeover.

Looking at the UK as a whole, a Department for Transport report in 2018 stated only 2% of registered vehicles were low emission. And while this seems a long way off target, the YoY growth2  shows the UK has had a 37% increase in low emission cars since 2016. If it continues at this rate, the UK will have 38.2m low emission vehicles on the road by 2034, leaving the government hitting its target an impressive 16 years before its 2050 deadline. 

Despite the target already predicted to be hit earlier than anticipated, Euro Car Parts’ research revealed the nation’s drivers aren’t quite ready to take the plunge. 

The research with 2,000 UK drivers highlighted ‘not enough charging points’ and ‘being stranded without charge or accessibility to charging services’, were their main concerns (66%), and according to YouGov3, only 4% would consider purchasing an electric car as their next vehicle. 

Looking further into the volume of charging points, the UK has seen an average of 28% increase in charging points being installed YoY since 20164. If this rate continues, the UK is expected to have 322 public charging points per 10,000 low emission vehicles by 2034, suggesting the UK’s roads won’t be fully equipped for the transition, and may not meet day-to-day demand. 

The number of charging points weren’t the only concern, with the distance-per-charge a worry for half of motorists (47%), as well as their electricity bills increasing (27%) and it actually being more costly than owning a petrol/diesel vehicle (22%).

Commenting on the findings, Chris Barella, Digital Services Director at Euro Car Parts, says: “It’s interesting to see that while figures suggest the government are on track to hit their low emission vehicle target, perhaps even earlier than anticipated, the nation’s views and attitudes towards alternative fuel vehicles, means we still have a long way to go. 

“It seems the biggest concern is the number of charging points and it’s understandable why. If the YoY figures are anything to go by, we simply won’t be equipped to supply the demand, however it’s encouraging the government is increasing its funding for charging points in residential areas. Hopefully seeing more around the country will inspire the nation’s drivers to make the switch and help us to achieve the initiative as early as predicted.”

For more information on how prepared the UK’s major cities are for the electric takeover, please visit: https://www.eurocarparts.com/blog/the-uk-cities-most-prepared-for-the-electric-car-takeover

How to comply with updated heat network regulations

Ian Allan, Head of Strategy for Switch2 Energy, offers guidance on the steps communal heating suppliers must take to comply with the updated Heat Network (Metering and Billing) Regulations (HNMBR).

The regulations, which stem from the EU Energy Efficiency Directive, are applicable to most sites that distribute thermal energy for heating, cooling or hot water from a central source to more than one end user, building or location. Legislation is enforced by the Office for Products & Safety Standards (OPSS).

Regulations are currently being updated as part of the Heat Network Market Framework. One of the most significant areas of consultation is a requirement to retrofit final customer meters to non-metered homes, where a revised new feasibility tool shows that it is viable. Other proposals include extending provisions on meter accuracy, maintenance and billing.

It is critical that heat suppliers comply with HNMBR – not just to avoid civil and criminal penalties – but to raise network performance and improve customer service. The regulations drive best practice in smart metering and billing. This pays off in terms of improved heat scheme efficiency, emissions reductions and better customer service. Real-time data from metering informs overall heat network efficiency and generates major performance improvements.

As the UK accelerates the roll-out of heat networks across towns and cities, the regulations remain key to the difficult challenge of reducing CO2 emissions from space heating and are unlikely to be affected by Brexit.

There are 3 key requirements of HNMBR

 1. Notification

Heat suppliers must inform the OPSS about the location of any heat network or communal heating scheme – as well as its capacity and supply figures. Each building that forms part of the network must also be identified, along with the number of customers using it and details of the billing information they receive..

Registrations must be updated (using the updated notification template) every four years. Since most heat networks registered by the original notification deadline of December 2015, they should have re-notified by 31 December 2019, but it is believed that many of the UK’s 17,000 heat network operators failed to respond to this deadline. The OPSS has begun issuing formal warnings to these non-compliant heat networks.

2. Metering

a. Point of entry meters

It is mandatory for all communal heat schemes (with more than one building supplied with heat) to install point of entry meters, or bulk meters, which record the amount of heat delivered into a property from the plant room or energy centre.

b. Final customer meters

It is also mandatory to install final customer meters on new builds and most buildings undergoing major renovation. If these meters are not feasible, the viability of heat cost allocators must be considered. The meters require scheduled servicing alongside periodic recalibration of heat cost allocators.

The requirement to fit final customer meters at existing non-metered properties is not yet compulsory, but this is likely to change soon. Consultation is currently underway as part of the Heat Network Market Framework, including proposals for a revised new feasibility tool, which will determine the viability of retrofitting final customer meters to non-metered homes.

This will replace the original tool, which was suspended in 2015 and has now been re-designed. When the new tool is released, heat suppliers with non-metered networks will have to test the scheme to determine whether it is viable to install meters or heat cost allocators and then take any required corrective action. This test must be repeated every four years and it is expected that all heat networks will need to be fully metered over time.

3. Billing

End customers must be billed using actual meter readings (rather than estimates) at least once a year. Those customers receiving bills electronically should, however, be invoiced quarterly. At a minimum, bills must contain current energy prices, details of total consumption (compared to the previous year, if applicable) and general information on how to improve energy efficiency.

The legislation imposes duties on the heat supplier, but OPSS has issued guidance on how these responsibilities may be shared between billing managers and network managers or owners, subject to discussions on who is best placed to undertake these duties.

Simplifying compliance

Innovative new pay-as-you-go (PAYG) smart meters can simplify the compliance process and drive behavioural change by giving customers full visibility of how much energy they are using and how much it’s costing them. This leads to significant cost and carbon savings.

In our experience, where we have installed smart metering and pay-as-you-go billing, heat usage has been reduced by up to 50%, compared to unmetered dwellings.

OPSS has confirmed that PAYG systems are compliant if:

  • Billing information is available on the PAYG unit at any time
  • The PAYG unit has an approved in-home display feature
  • Meter readings are available on the unit
  • An annual billing statement is provided to customers

Further information: www.switch2.co.uk