This guest post is by Rebecca Field of www.rabrown.co.uk/ground-source-heat-pumps-suffolk.
UNEP, the United Nations Environmental Programme announced in June 2012 that despite the targets set and efforts made by countries across the globe, the world’s energy supplies are still on an ‘Unsustainable Path’ with not enough being done to break our dependence on fossil fuels. Announced in Rio by the fifth edition of the Global Environment Outlook (GEO-5) before the Rio+20 Summit, the report detailed 90 of the most important environmental goals and informed that significant progress had only been made in four.
The four which were judged to have made ‘significant progress’ were:
- Eliminating the production and use of substances which deplete the ozone layer
- Removal of lead from fuel
- Increasing access to improved water supplies
- Boosting research to reduce pollution of the marine environment
Although some progress was shown on a further 40 goals, little or no progress was found on 24 – including climate change and even more worryingly 8 goals showed deterioration. If we do not act soon the report warns that we will go past the point of repair. GEO-5 encouraged the world leaders and nations meeting in Rio to make definite and decisive goals, as this is when most progress has been made.
So what are we, in the UK, doing to try and rectify the problem, and how are our government planning to reduce the amount of fossil fuels we are using?
The Government are currently implementing a ‘carbon budget’ in the UK which is a cap on the total quantity of greenhouse gas emissions emitted in the UK over a specified time. Reducing the energy produced using greenhouse gases is one area in which the government is working on so increasing the amount of wind turbines, solar panels, air source and ground source heat pumps, hydraulic energy and biomass plants is one area the government is really working on.
We’ve seen the success of the Feed-in Tariff and how the solar panel industry was sent into hyper-drive by the incentive offered to those who installed solar panels in their homes and businesses, this will now be followed by the Renewable Heat Incentive which will cover renewable energy used to heat premises – such as the heat pump.
Although the premise of the RHI (Renewable Heat Incentive) is parallel with that of the Feed In-Tariff as it will give payments to people producing their own energy to heat their homes with technology such as biomass boilers, geothermal energy or heat pumps there is one fundamental difference as it will be funded by the Treasury where the FiT was paid for by energy users. The RHI is still in its initial stage and has not been rolled out across all premises as of yet, but it is hoped that Phase 2 will also cover domestic properties, giving UK citizens a helping hand to change the face of our energy outlook, receiving grants to install renewable heat technology. Soon a heat pump or biomass boiler could be the norm for a new home.
Heat pumps work by using heat from the natural environment – such as in the air or underground to heat. For a ground source heat pump installation you’ll need to bury coils of piping underground. As the liquid in them naturally heats it is compressed and raised to a higher temperature so that water can be heated which can then be used in a heating system. An air source heat pump compresses the heat in exactly the same way but it finds its natural heat by acting as a back to front fridge, taking heat from the air.
Climate change isn’t something to be taken lightly and although the worlds’ targets aren’t going to be hit by heat pumps alone, when added to all the other actions taken the difference would be seen.
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