Cheltenham retirement complex to slash emissions with ground source heat pumps

RDC's Tom LLoyd (left) with MP Alex Chalk (right)

The Lewis Carrol Lodge has been developed by Churchill Retirement Living and will officially open in Cheltenham in March. It is a collection of 65 new retirement apartments that will have the carbon intensity of its heating reduced by ground source heat pump technology.

The Renewable Design Company (RDC) has installed that pump system at the development to extract heat from the earth to provide heating and hot water. According to the company, the heat pumps will produce 33 tonnes of CO2 annually, which is almost 100 tonnes less than that what would be generated by an electric heating system, equating to a 75% reduction in emissions.

Local Cheltenham MP Alex Chalk, who campaigned heavily for the UK’s net-zero target, said: said: “I’m proud to be supporting local renewable initiatives, such as the heating system at Lewis Carroll Lodge for a greener environment and better future. The ground source heat pump they have installed is a great example of sustainable, low carbon, development. The Government will continue to support the renewables sector, to help us hit our Net Zero emissions targets.”

Heating has been a notoriously difficult sector to decarbonise in the UK, and many are pointing the finger at a lack of political incentives.

Bean Beanland, president of the recently rebranded Ground Source Heat Pump Association, told Utility Week that the association will be pressing the government to provide capital grants for the installation of heat pumps as part of a new post -2021 support framework for low-carbon heating.

The replacement for the Renewable Heat Incentive, the existing framework that runs out next year, should set a target of one million heat pump installations a year by 2035, according to the association.

Last year, the Science and Technology Committee called for the urgent development a clearer strategy for decarbonising heat that includes large-scale trials of different heating technologies, such as heat pumps and hydrogen gas heating, operating in homes and cities to build the evidence base required for long-term decisions.

Research suggests that the installation of district heat networks could reduce the capital cost of the UK’s heat networks by up to 40%. Research from the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) found that it is possible to reduce the cost of the nation’s low-carbon transition by as much as £3bn by using “innovative” solutions, including water source heat pumps.

On the latter, Scotland’s first large-scale water source heat pump scheme takes heat from the river Clyde to provide heat and hot water for a nearby district heating network. Delivered by Vital Energi, two 2.5MW water source heat pumps will be used to provide heat for the up to 1,200 houses and businesses and public buildings as part of the £250m Queen’s Quay Development project in Clydebank.

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Matt Mace

Comments (3)

  1. Keiron Shatwell says:

    the heat pumps will produce 33 tonnes of CO2 annually" – This is VITALLY important to note. Heat Pumps are NOT ZERO CARBON and therefore should never be described as such.

    Now I happen to think developments like this are vital to the need to change our heating from burning things (coal, oil, gas, biomass). District heating systems, such as this retirement complex or the system using the Clyde, are the best way forward as they benefit from both an economy of scale and by having been designed specifically for a particular need. Plus with well insulated buildings they work far more effectively. The recent article on BBC News about using town/city parks and green spaces as GSHP is also interesting as long as the green spaces are not damaged as they play a vital role in cleaning the air in urban areas.

    My worry is that Heat Pumps will be forced upon every household regardless as for many older homes (in fact some new builds too) they simply do not work effectively enough to heat the home properly or efficiently. Knee Jerk reactions or policy decisions for "green credentials" will not help but could make the situation far far worse and cost homeowners large fortunes which most simply do not have.

  2. Colin Matthews says:

    What is the cost of the system and payback timings? What are the savings compared to gas? How efficient is the system in summer where heat is not required? Does the process reverse to provide cooling? Why don t they use Renewable electricity To be zero carbon?

  3. Keiron Shatwell says:

    Colin – very valid questions to which I admit I don’t have concrete answers. However when a Heat Pump is built in at source the payback is not really an issue as buildings need a source of heating be that HP or "wet" CH. When retrofitted to an existing property it can cost tens of thousands and payback can be measured in decades (from my own investigations into my house), even if you factor in replacing a failed wet boiler.
    In summer people will still require Hot Water so the HP will still be providing that. It may be engineeringly possible to use reverse cooling to provide this but that might make the system too complex to be viable.
    And good point, why not install solar panels on the complex roof to provide the electricity to power the HP?

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