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ENGIE eyes Enfield heat pump network as template for national roll-out

Ongoing implementation of system claimed to be England’s largest shared ground source heat pump network is intended to inform similar projects across the UK

A project to install what developers have claimed is England’s largest shared ground source heat pump (GSHP) network system is expected to be completed on schedule by October 2018 - less than a year after installation work commenced.

The ground source heat network is being introduced by ENGIE through its regeneration businesses, in partnership with Kensa, and is expected to lay the foundation for a number of other similar projects in the country.

The system will supply heating and hot water to eight towers blocks across two estates that are overseen by Enfield Council.  It is intended to help tackle concerns over fuel poverty.

Andy Merrin, head of energy and innovation with ENGIE, said that a large number of tenants residing in the eight tower blocks that are presently being connected to the network had been classed as fuel poor.

He argued that the solution chosen during a tender competition would therefore ensure an improved energy efficiency performance and reduced maintenance costs over the previous solution, creating a unique solution that ENGIE hoped to install for a range of different properties.

Mr Merirn said, “We are talking to other clients around the UK about replicating this scheme elsewhere.”

An estimated 400 residents living on the two estates in Enfield will be able to make use of the system that extracts heat from the earth using underground pipes.

A total of 16 shared ground loop systems will serve all eight tower blocks on the two sites, with sufficient room to accommodate all residents wishing to become part of the project, ENGIE has claimed.

Under the design of the project, each district system makes use of roughly eight boreholes that extend approximately 200 metres into the ground and serve all the individual shoebox heat pumps from Kensa that are installed into the flats. This is intended to allow every property to manage heat and hot water functions individually.

According to the system’s developers, the piped boreholes have a 100 year guarantee. The ground source heat pumps chosen meanwhile carry a 25 year guarantee.

Off-grid potential

Stuart Gadsden, technical sales manager with Kensa Heat Pumps, said the project was the result of the manufacturing company’s decision to form a contracting capability to support the design and installation of heating systems built using its products.

Mr Gadsden said the project in Enfield was expected to generate a much less carbon intensive form of heating that was approximately three times as energy efficient compared to the previous systems in place at all eight tower blocks.

He added, “We do have to use electricity to power the system compressor, but we get a lot of free heat from the ground.”

Mr Gadsden said one of Enfield’s main aims with the project was to tackle fuel poverty that was a growing consideration for a number of authorities.

He noted that one disadvantage of using electric for heating at present was its present higher cost compared to other types of fuel in the UK at a cost of somewhere between 14p per kilowatt hour and 16p per kilowatt hour.

Mr Gadsden said, “However, the advantage of having a heat pump is that you can achieve high efficiencies. That technically means we will have a heating cost of between 4p to 6p per kilowatt hour depending on which price comparison website or electric service that is used.”

He argued that costs were significantly cheaper for the solution than other forms of electric heating, as well as oil and LGP fuel that were used in other fuel poor areas.

Mr Gadsden noted that savings from use of the ground source heat pump network were a “lot less” at present.

He said, “That is predominantly why if you are looking at ground source heat pumps in a retrofit situation, the properties we should be targeting are those that are off the main gas network without possibility of connection or for properties such as [these estates in Enfield] that are heated by electric.”

Mr Gadsden said in the present market that housing stock connected to gas was probably not the best types of property to take up ground source heat pumps, however, this created significant potential to reform heating.

He added, “I think there are something like four million UK buildings that are off the gas network and are either heated by electric, oil or LPG. So there are still a lot of properties we can go at and try and tackle fuel poverty. “

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