Itron Research Reveals Lack of Meter Installation Training Could Amount to £7 Million in Unnecessary Costs for Renewable Heat Projects
Research shows installer skills gap causing wasted installation time, incorrect installations and unnecessary call backs LONDON, UK -- 15th January, 2014 -- Itron, Inc. (NASDAQ: ITRI) announced today researchshowing that incorrectly fitted meters for commercial renewable heat projects could result in more than £7 million of wasted funds by 2020.
The research, "Understanding Renewable Heat Meter Installations," commissioned by Itron and undertaken by Dynamic Markets, shows that over the last three years, 29 percent of heat engineers have had to address problems associated with the incorrect installation of heat meters on renewable technologies. Most renewables installers surveyed (55%) have not received training on fitting meters.
The most common issues experienced by the sample include:
Problems installing flow meters (16%)
Temperature sensors not installed correctly (14%)
Dirt getting into the system (10%)
hile the research shows the need for greater guidance for installers, many of the issues requiring multiple installer callbacks - such as dirt getting into the system - are associated with the use of mechanical heat meters, which stop providing energy readings when installed incorrectly.
These issues can be avoided by installing ultrasonic meters, which even if clogged by dirt, will continue working and alert the installer of the issue. Ultrasonic meters also provide higher accuracy and granularity of data, even at low flow rates, over the entire life of renewable projects, which can be in excess of 25 years.
DECC estimates that up to 900,000 renewable heat projects will be installed in the UK by 2020. Commercial renewable heat projects mandatorily require heat meters to be installed to qualify for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI1). As such, at least 165,000 meters are expected be installed on heat projects to ensure RHI subsidy payments are based on actual output. Installation of meters also enhances the rewards offered by the domestic RHI. DECC is offering additional financial incentives of up to £230 per year to encourage the use of metering and monitoring packages.
Renewable Heat Incentive
"We're seeing encouraging growth in the emerging renewable heat industry with 800MW of renewable heat installed in the past two years," said Bernard McWeeney, water and heat manager at Itron.
"To build trust in the industry, the latest meters should be installed in the right manner, so that project performance can be measured efficiently over the lifecyle. Itron provides guidance to help installers make the right choice as well as training on fitting meters to prevent costly call backs."
The Itron research also found great variability in installation rates and times. For example:
In the last 12 months, 23 percent of the heat engineers surveyed have been called back to address problems with heat meters on renewable technologies.
On average, they had to return eight times in a 12-month period, while some returned 50 times.
The time to install a heat meter on renewable energy technologies varies considerably - while 21 percent of engineers take an hour for installation, 19 percent take twice as long (two hours).
However, another 36 percent take even longer, with 15 percent taking more than five hours to install a heat meter and some even taking up to 48 hours.
To meet the metering installation skills gap, Itron has launched a new interactive e-learning guide to help nstallers to fit meters efficiently and properly. The Itron Heat Meter Installation Guide provides videos and information on how to complete a correct and safe installation of the Itron CF UltraMaXX and CF Echo II thermal energy meters in accordance to the EN Standard 1434 section 6. The interactive guide includes pre-installation checks, pull out diagrams and troubleshooting. The guide can be downloaded at: www.itronheat.co.uk
About The Research
"Understanding Renewable Heat Meter Installations" was commissioned by Itron and undertaken by Dynamic Markets. It presents quantitative research carried out with 100 UK heating engineers or plumbers who are MCS certified and who have personal experience of installing renewable energy technologies and heat meters. The fieldwork took place between 27th June and 16th July 2013. Before and during the interview, respondents were not aware that Itron had commissioned the research.
Dynamic Markets is a research consultancy in its 14th year of trading. It serves a wide variety of blue-chip B2B and B2C clients across various industry sectors. It strictly adheres to the UK MRS Code of Conduct.
The research shows that 29 percent of heat engineers have been called back to address problems associated with the incorrect installation of heat meters. To qualify for the commercial RHI Renewable, heat projects mandatorily require meters to be fitted. DECC estimates that up to 165,000 projects will qualify for the commercial RHI (ref. table 6, p21, Renewable Heat Incentive - Domestic Impact Assessment, July 2013).
Installation costs for meters vary, depending on size and situation of the project. The following costs have been put forward by DECC:
£173 (ref. table 5, p26, District Heat Metering Cost Benefit Analysis, 2012)
£60 - £550 (ref. table 6, p8, Heat Metering for the RHI, 2010)
£1,000 including capital costs (re. p7, section 3.2.1, RHI Impact Assessment 2012) Itron has assumed a conservative figure of £150 per meter installation. This figure (£150) has then been multiplied by the expected number of commercial installations requiring a meter within the RHI (165,000). The resulting figure: £24,750,000 represents the cost of installing mandatory meters. Based upon the 29 percent of meter installations where installers have been called back, £7,177,500 has been arrived upon as the amount money wasted, due to inadequate training on fitting meters.
Itron is a global technology company. We build solutions that help utilities measure, manage and analyze energy and water. Our broad product portfolio includes electricity, gas, water and thermal energy measurement and control technology; communications systems; software; and professional services. With thousands of employees supporting nearly 8,000 utilities in more than 100 countries, Itron empowers utilities to responsibly and efficiently manage energy and water resources. Join us in creating a more resourceful world; start here: www.itron.com.
For further information please email Itron Metering Solutions UK Ltd