RHI raises questions on the role of renewable technologies

15 April 2011

The recent announcement regarding the Renewable Heat Incentive and the future of the Feed In Tariff has done little to quell discontent in the industry over the role of renewable technologies and questions still remain over the most efficient way to heat homes and meet government targets.

It cannot be a one size fits all approach and the needs of individual properties can vary dramatically, especially when fitting out properties to the Code for Sustainable Homes. For example, a large block of flats will have a higher water demand than a small house, therefore a system which can deliver a constant flow of hot water, despite multiple outlets being used simultaneously, needs to be installed.

Such systems, like the Alpha FlowSmart boiler, feature a separate thermal store – usually a 25 or 50 litre tank – that works in conjunction with a high efficiency combination boiler to provide a consistent level of hot water when needed. Furthermore, installing one of these systems can help meet Level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes and result in a 25% reduction in gas usage for the end user.

Another option to consider, and one that can be fitted to both new build and existing properties is solar thermal hot water, especially since using energy from the sun has the potential to save up to 645kg of CO2 emissions. Conventional systems maintain a stored supply of hot water, this means regardless of demand the boiler fires up to replenish the stored water as soon as the volume or temperature deteriorates.

However, Alpha SolarSmart uses a combination boiler, giving it a considerable energy saving advantage. With SolarSmart, the stored volume of hot water is heated only by the collected solar energy, so no gas is used in maintaining the cylinder temperature. Should the solar heated water be exhausted, however, the combination boiler fires-up long enough to help satisfy any immediate demand for hot water.

Utilising the best features of a high-efficiency combination boiler with carbon-saving renewables is a very real and effective way of providing adequate heat and hot water to UK homes. With so much dissent within the industry regarding many renewable technologies, systems such as those above provide a highly efficient and economic solution for domestic heating in both new build and existing properties.

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