Since April 2010 there has been a lot of talk about the Renewable Heat Incentive [RHI], about the tariffs, availability or whether it would be tied to a COP [Coefficient of Performance].
Going back to basics, what is a Heat Pump? In layman terms a device that is going to convert some source of energy into heat, most of the time the source of energy comes from electricity, gas or even from natural resources like warmth from the air or from underground. The whole idea of the heat pump is to reduce the amount of energy required to heat up say a house. If your inlet water temperature is at 15*C and the heat pump needs to increase the temperature at 25*C, then the heat pump will need to consume a quantity of energy (usually gas or electricity) to raise that temperature. If the water inlet at 15*C could be raised to 18*C free from mother nature then the total cost of raising the temperature to 25*C would be much less.
For example if your ambient temperature is 15*C and 10 feet underground the temperature of the soil is 18*C then you can dig a few pipes down below and it will raise the temperature 3*C for free at no cost as the system will be using the earths natural warmth to heat up the temperature. In this case the coils underground are called ground source heat pumps. In essence this is what Renewable Heat Energy is, to use some from of free existing energy to reduce the total cost of generating heat.
There are other types of systems that use special design chemicals that can handle and store heat better. Rather than reduce energy needed for heating, it is being used for buffering heat. A bit similar to the old fashion storage heaters. The amount of new technologies that are being introduced for thermal systems is quite big and it sounds like a very promising future.
Here at Logic Energy we get often involved in the research and development to help companies maximise their heat technology. We would advise any company or consumer interested to know more about heat pump systems to look beyond the running costs but also to look at the efficiency of the system and the contort levels achieved with the heating system. Every person has different levels of comfort and therefore different heat technologies may work better than others for different candidates. Comfort, efficiency of the system and cost would be my key criteria if I had to look into these systems for my own use. I would like to know how much energy (gas or electricity) the system is using to run and also how much calorific energy the system is producing in exchange. The point of a renewable heat energy device is to be more efficient at generating heat using free available natural resources around us and like cars, some system will behave different than others. Ultimately you want also to keep an eye on the outdoor ambient temperatures and the comfort levels achieved indoors as this will have a great impact on the heat system performance.
To measure the performance of the heating system, one of our single GSM remote monitoring systems (LeNETmobile) can connect to the heat system using heat meters and optional sensors for advanced monitoring like temperature sensors, kWh meter, and solar radiation sensor. A lot to take in? We are always happy to assist so please do keep in contact.