Trialling times

Developments continue apace at BRE and the National Solar Centre with a busy summer season to look forward to, as well as starting to see the first results from one of the UK’s most comprehensive heat pump field trials conducted by DECC, reports Steve Pester

Over the last two years, BRE has been assisting the Department of Energy & Climate Change with the installation of monitoring equipment for domestic heat pumps installed under the RHPP (Renewable Heat Premium Payment) programme. All the hard work is now bearing fruit as DECC has now released the first public report: ‘Preliminary data from the RHPP heat pump metering programme’. Around 700 installations are being monitored with a precision hitherto unknown in UK heat pump trials. The reason for this monumental effort is that previous trials have shown rather poorer results than expected, when we know that heat pumps can perform well when specified and installed correctly. The results will feed into future policy and also into the MCS technical standards.

In theory, it is simple to monitor the energy inputs and outputs of a heating system in order to work out the system efficiency; but accurate, consistent, high resolution metering of all the energy flows in 700 heat pump systems can turn out to be rather more complicated in practice. So, this report provides significant new information for the renewables industry and for policy makers. The headline comment from this preliminary assessment of the data is that by comparison with the first EST heat pump field trial, the results are encouraging. The report can be downloaded from the DECC website: www.gov.uk/decc.

News from the National Solar Centre: You’ll be relieved to hear that it has not been washed away with the railway line and is, in fact, quite safely sited on south-facing high ground at the Eden Project. We are currently preparing for a busy summer running the first season of outdoor testing of PV modules. These trials are long term tests using sophisticated monitoring technology to accurately determine the differences in efficiency between a number of types of module. If you are a manufacturer or distributor, or in fact an installer with good contacts to a manufacturer, and you would like to submit modules to the programme, please do get in touch – we will be closing the door to new modules in the next few weeks. Email: nsc@bre.co.uk .

Staff and associates from the BRE National Solar Centre will be speaking in several sessions at Ecobuild on such topics as: The renewables market: incentives, payback, & regulatory drivers; the business case for PV at different scales; and Advances in PV technologies.