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Wales lays down the gauntlet on energy efficiency

The proposed 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions as laid out under Part L of the Welsh Building Regulations will encourage consultants in the non-domestic sector to take a different approach when it comes to assessing heating and hot water technologies.

By proposing these ambitious targets, the Welsh government has effectively laid down the gauntlet for the non-domestic sector to consider a broader range of low-carbon technologies when specifying for new buildings.

When it comes to the heating and hot water provision of a non-domestic building, it is impossible to take a “one system fits all” approach. The emphasis when selecting a suitable product should be less on selecting a technology and more so on coming up with a winning combination that delivers the maximum benefit. There are a number of renewable technologies available on the market today, ranging from solar thermal panels to gas absorption heat pumps, and each has different strengths and limitations.

As result of the new targets, emerging renewable technologies will need to be accommodated within a heating and hot water system to minimise reliance on fossil fuels. One of the growing trends is the installation of a systems alliance, whereby multiple technologies are installed together, to use the strengths of each appliance in order to mitigate the impact of stringent emissions targets.

Striving to adhere to these challenging targets could also stimulate further growth in the demand for Combined Heat and Power (CHP) modules, which are now among the most attractive technologies available from a financial incentives standpoint. As heat is produced as a by-product of the power generated and by distributing via a thermal store, the technology lends itself to operation alongside any other heating source – a high-efficiency boiler being one of the most common examples.

With good-quality CHP already exempt from the Climate Change Levy, covered by the Enhanced Capital Allowances scheme, and set to be exempt from carbon floor price from next April, the technology could hold the key to meeting emissions targets and significantly reducing payback periods.

The decision to separate the Welsh regulations from those enforced in England is a bold move, but friendly competition between the two nations when it comes to energy efficiency targets could completely transform the UK’s building stock for the better.

Despite the differences in carbon reduction targets between the two nations, it is vitally important the UK as a whole is in tune with the need to reduce CO2 and use less energy. With zero carbon targets looming, it is imperative consultants embrace all heating and hot water technologies available in the marketplace.

Geoff Hobbs is business development director at Bosch Commercial & Industrial Heating

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