Study identifies low carbon heating technology innovation opportunities

Following the Scottish Government’s publication of the Heat in Buildings strategy, BRE was commissioned by Scottish Enterprise to identify technical innovation capabilities in low-carbon heating.

Research has shown that there is great potential for innovation to reduce the high costs associated with low-carbon heating technologies.

BRE has found that low-carbon heating technologies with the potential for technical innovation are air-source heat pumps, district heating networks, thermal energy storage and waste heat recovery from industry.

The study identified opportunities for technical innovation in:

  • Convenient and smart technology for heat pumps with air source
  • Use waste heat to increase energy efficiency
  • Alternative approaches to district heating networks that reduce costs

The Scottish Government’s “Heat in Buildings” strategy points to the need to rapidly expand the deployment of zero-emission heating systems. By 2030, more than 1 million homes and the equivalent of 50,000 non-residential buildings will need to be converted to zero-emission thermal appliances.

Our technical innovation needs assessment, designed to demonstrate new business opportunities for businesses and value to consumers, will help build an evidence base to support local businesses in overcoming innovative challenges in developing low-carbon solutions. The project also stressed the need to raise consumer awareness of low-carbon heating technologies.

Colin Sinclair, BRE’s deputy director, said: “Through our world-class research, BRE is playing a leading role in supporting businesses on the path to pure zero.
Our assessment of the need for innovation has shown that there is a need for convenient and smart low-carbon technologies, and there is an opportunity to make greater use of waste heat.

“Our goal with this study for the Scottish company is to lead to innovation as well as further research and development in certain areas, and that this will trigger innovative approaches to low-carbon thermal technologies for the benefit of the sector and local communities. ”

Air source heat pumps are commonly identified as potential for mass deployment. However, the review showed that heat pumps can be improved through user-friendly control systems, smart monitoring and thermal energy storage technologies, which will increase energy efficiency and wider distribution.

The BRE study also found that a different approach to the design and construction of district heating networks could create opportunities for technical innovation. The use of waste heat and renewable energy sources was also recognized. Heat generated in the form of waste can be used in buildings and heating networks.

BRE has also identified that new tools and approaches can be developed that will identify and measure thermal waste from industrial processes such as power plants, water treatment plants and other commercial buildings.

Recently, BRE has expanded its capabilities for testing air-source heat pumps due to increased consumer and market demand following the publication of the UK Government’s heat and construction strategy.

Read the full report.

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