Helping to eliminate fuel poverty in Merseyside, UK
In 2016, RSK company Ground Heat was contacted by social landlord Torus Homes to discuss alternative heating options for four blocks of nine apartments in Prescot, Merseyside, heated using electric panel heaters, as no mains gas supply was available. This heating method was inefficient and expensive for the tenants and resulting in annuals bills exceeding £900. To help eradicate fuel poverty for the residents, Torus Homes wanted to introduce new heating technology that would overcome the lack of mains gas supply and address rising fuel costs. The company also requested that the system require as little maintenance as possible and be easy for residents to use.
Ground Heat had experience in providing such a large ground-source heat pump system and is unique in being able to integrate such systems with other renewable technologies. In Prescot, the client already had a solar photovoltaic array consisting of 394 panels and a battery storage system that was supplying communal area lighting and that it wanted integrated with the heating system.
To accommodate this, we worked with Austrian company Heliotherm to create an innovative 1–6-kW, inverter-driven heat pump with the ability link with the solar photovoltaic and battery storage systems and address demand-side response. As demand-side response is a strategy designed to help balance the supply and demand of the energy grid local district network operator, Electricity North West was eager to collaborate with us on this project, so requested a trial on a new type of inverter filter to prevent frequency problems from the grid.
The project had its unique challenges, including the integration of the solar photovoltaic array and battery storage systems with the ground-source heat system to increase efficiency and capture electricity to run the heat pumps for minimum cost. There was also a tight schedule of one month for the installation work.
During the installation work, good communication with the residents ensured minimal disruption and enabled the project to run smoothly and on time. An explanation of the operation of the new system, instruction manuals and support for setting up controls were provided for each resident. The residents were pleased to see the back of their electric panel heaters and lower energy costs.
Torus Homes was very pleased with the results of the project and has awarded Ground Heat further contracts. The creation of the new inverter-driven heat pump led to the installation being named the 2017 Innovation of the Year at the British Renewable Energy Awards. The system is also currently being monitored by the district network operator to inform future practice.