Motortrades Insight Magazine Online

Gas absorption heat pumps can help automotive businesses achieve up to 150 per cent energy efficiency and avoid climate change levy

Published: 18 December 2013

Is it really possible for a boiler to be more than 100 per cent efficient? Viessmann’s Technical Manager and heat pumps expert Hugh Jones certainly thinks so and the German based company is developing systems to do just that. 

“In terms of heat pumps and gas, there are gas-driven heat pumps coming in,” he said. These are technically known as gas absorption heat pumps (GAHP) and can achieve up to 150 per cent efficiency, not only for heating, but also for cooling commercial, industrial and residential buildings. 

By using this technology, buildings can benefit from the advantages of both gas boilers and electric heat pumps. 

“If you have a domestic boiler which is gas fed, you are getting to the point where there are gas heat pumps which are the same size and you could remove the boiler, put in the gas heat pump and you will have a step improvement in efficiency then. You’ll go from an efficiency of about 90 to 92 per cent up to around 125 per cent. 

“That sounds a little unusual going over 100 per cent but there is a renewable energy input there as they’ll be energy taken from the air. You’ll be getting out more heat from what you put in, in terms of gas.”

So while it is not fully carbon friendly, it is certainly an improvement that can help reduce emissions and potentially provide lower fuel bills as a result of an immediate improvement in energy efficiency after installation. 

Proponents of gas absorption heat pumps say the technology outperforms conventional methods of heating buildings. The lower carbon footprint is achieved simply by using gas instead of electricity as the primary energy source – far more efficient and typically a third of the price of electricity.

At The Open University’s Walton Hall campus, energy reductions of 50 per cent have been achieved. The campus is also exempt from the climate change levy, a tax on energy delivered to non-domestic users in the UK. The aim of the levy is to encourage businesses to increase energy efficiency. 

It has also provided the university with costs savings related to the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC). ENER-G worked in partnership with mechanical and electrical contractor Rushmoor Mechanical Services to install heat pump technology at the campus.

But while there have been ‘no major jumps in performance’ to gas boilers, they have become more reliable and easier to use, with controls that will ‘adapt to different types of gases’. “Gases do not just come from the North Sea but also Russia. The quality of the gas has changed,” Mr Jones added. But he did admit that Combined Heat and Power (CHP) is an area which is coming forward.

So for anyone in the automotive business, whether you are in an office, factory, warehouse, garage or a showroom, gas absorption heat pumps could be the way forward if you wish to improve the energy efficiency of your business. You could save thousands of pounds every year and even avoid the hefty climate change levy. 

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