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BEAMA welcomes UK heat pump field trials

The British Elctrotechnical and Allied Manufacturers Association (BEAMA) have welcomed the interim finding of the UK’s first domestic heat pump field trial.

The report entitled Getting warmer: a field trial of heat pumps, was undertaken by the Energy Saving Trust (EST), is an essential tool to inform the heat pump industry in all aspects including heat pump design, installation, commissioning and end-use.

The interim conclusions are broadly in line with the heat pump trial’s expected outcomes for example that heat pumps work optimally with low temperature heat distribution systems and are best suited to well insulated dwellings.

Kelly Butler, BEAMA’s Marketing Director, congratulates the report by stating that: “As with all developing markets, field trials can ensure sustainable technology growth and customer satisfaction, which is why heat pump manufacturers and other stakeholders acted responsibly in both funding and technically supporting the trial.”

He goes on to define this growth: “During 2009, the installed base of heat pumps doubled with annual sales of around 14,000 units,” which points to a future of steady growth.

Butler further adds: “It is well recognised that poor heat pump performance can be attributed strongly to poor design and system commissioning. For example, inappropriate sizing to the heat load or system requirements, and inadequate installation/commissioning such as circulation pump setting.

“However, the heat pump industry is addressing these issues through major investment in training and support of the new National Occupational Standards published by Summit Skills earlier this year. Industry is also actively engaged in the successful development of a National Skills Academy, which if correctly implemented, can ensure consistent training standards through a ‘hub and spoke’ delivery method - a proactive approach to improve supply chain education in design and installation."

Following this sceme an estimated 2000 installers have been trained in heat pump design and installation this year. By 2020, under the new qualification framework, 8000 installers will be trained to help install some one million heat pumps.

It is interesting to note that the majority of field trial sites pre-date the Government’s relatively new Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS), which is also supported by the heat pump industry. The scheme certifies product and installer standards and currently has 357 products and 370 installers approved to give confidence of quality standards to customers.

Over 200 additional heat pump products are currently in the process of approval.

“BEAMA believes that Government and industry investment in MCS will overcome some of the trial’s less positive results,” says Kelly Butler.

"For example, MCS requires installers to advise customers of the energy efficiency opportunities in the dwelling to reduce heat requirements - insulation for instance - and to specifically lay out the installation’s expected fuel savings.

“The EST report does identify some cases where the installer and customer suffer from poor education on heating controls, and we know well that appropriate use of heating controls will positively affect the efficiency of all heating system types from gas central heating to heat pumps."

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