The renewables market is heating up

The last few years have been a really challenging time for everyone involved in the heating industry. Along with the ever increasing array of products in the marketplace, financial pressures are forcing end-user customers to consider a number of factors when looking to replace older heating equipment. This is leading many to repair their existing appliance rather than replace it with a more energy efficient system.
Ultimately, this situation has put increasing pressure on companies operating in the commercial heating sector to attempt to educate their customers on the most suitable solutions to meet their requirements in order to improve the energy performance standards in buildings and reduce carbon emissions outlined in Part L2A and L2B of the Building Regulations. Unfortunately, as a wider variety of products become available the advice given is not always in the interests of the longer term requirements of the client.

The most obvious shift has been witnessed in the central heating boiler market, in particular the move from standard efficiency (SE) to high efficiency (HE) boilers since the regulations came into effect. This is clearly highlighted by the increase in demand for commercial condensing appliances, which has demonstrated double digit growth year on year in an otherwise flat market.

It must be recognised that the installation of condensing boilers represents the best way of achieving a cost effective reduction in carbon emissions. When coupled with a full system assessment and controls upgrade, a high efficiency heating system can offer real benefits to both the end-user and the environment.

Moving forward, it is essential we all understand that to achieve an ongoing reduction in emissions, greater focus and emphasis must be placed on not only developing new and greener technologies, such as renewables, but also ensuring that the right solution is specified to meet individual project specifications and an end-users’ requirements.

Demand for information on renewables is certainly increasing, and is likely to continue to do so given concerns regarding diminishing fossil fuels. This, coupled with the impact that climate change is having on the environment, continues to lead the news agenda.

There is now an increased awareness of a wide number of renewable technology solutions on the market, such as solar, heat pumps, biomass, biofuel and CHP (combined heat and power). However, careful consideration must be given to each of these when looking at their suitability in a commercial or industrial application, as many are currently not necessarily either cost effective or carbon reducing options.

Biomass energy for example involves the burning of wood chip or pellets and can be used to produce heat for space and water heating. Whilst the UK has adopted the use of this approach, particularly in rural areas, some of the largest examples of the use of biomass can be found in Europe.

However, this approach can be very expensive, due to not only the high capital cost of the equipment, but more importantly the need to provide adequate storage for the fuel. Another factor that limits the impact of this alternative product can be the availability of the fuel, as most wood pellets are imported into the UK, therefore ultimately adding to the cost and carbon footprint of this particular technology.

One sustainable solution that is growing in popularity, with many manufacturers bringing new products to market, are heat pumps (ground and air source systems). Whilst it is clear that this technology has real benefits in the domestic new build sector, it is likely to be more difficult to realise these benefits in the commercial sector, especially in the major inner city areas where available space is at a premium.

At Ideal Stelrad, we have been researching and developing sustainable products for many years at our state-of-the-art research laboratory in Hull. During this period, significant investment has been made and we are now confident that out of all the renewable solutions available, harnessing the sun’s energy through solar power will not only be the most effective, but also the most applicable renewable solution to the large existing property base in the UK.

This is one of the main reasons why we have introduced a new energy efficient and simple to install solar water heating solution – Ideal Solar. We understand that solar panels are not new to the industry, but our main priority over the last twelve months has been developing a solar solution that was going to offer maximum benefits to our customers.

Suitable for both commercial and domestic applications, Ideal Solar further extends our comprehensive product offering, giving installers and specifiers a one stop shop for all their heating needs. This includes Ideal Solar, along with Ideal Boilers’ range of HE appliances and Stelrad’s extensive range of radiators.

Ideal Solar complements an existing hot water storage system, with the solar collectors featuring a selective coating to enhance energy absorption, achieving 95% efficiency levels. This means that even on cloudy days, diffuse radiation can be captured, reducing boiler usage in winter, whilst in the summer, it is possible that all hot water energy needs can be obtained. The flat plate collectors are roof mounted to obtain maximum energy from the sun, with a range of additional fixing arrangements also available so the panels can be fixed on any type of property.

Overall, renewable technologies are a growing business and will present installers with great income opportunities moving forward. However, just like when condensing boilers were first introduced into the commercial market, as an industry it is essential that we all carefully consider the application and the requirements for installing renewable technologies in their own right.

Sustainable products need to be just that – sustainable. Not just in an environmental sense, but in a practical sense as well. Currently the payback period on many products is too long, although prices may come down as the market matures.

To help installers make a more informed choice and get up to speed, Ideal Solar is offering a three-day accredited training course at our training centre in Hull, where installers can become accredited members of the Solar Trade Association following successful completion. To complement this, information on Ideal Solar can be found on Ideal’s Installer Connect Training Vans, which are touring trade counters throughout the UK.

This is the first step of many new developments from the Ideal Stelrad Group (ISG) to ensure we are best suited not only to the UK market, but more importantly, the requirements of our clients and that of the environment, which remains critical to all our futures.

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