Scottish OEM Star Refrigeration supports the Scottish Energy Advisory Board’s new plan to decarbonize the country’s energy industry and calls for the U.K. government to change its policy on electricity charges, making low-carbon technologies like heat pumps more financially viable.
The “Joint Business Plan for Unlocking Investment in Scotland’s Energy Sector” details seven “essential categories and identifies 75 key actions to address the barriers faced by the energy sector,” Star Refrigeration said in a post on its website.
“The key takeaway from this joint business plan is that the Scottish government is confident of the technical ability of heat pumps, and it is acknowledged they have the power to immediately play a vital role in heat decarbonization,” said Dave Pearson, Group Sustainability Director at Star Refrigeration and Director of Star Renewable Energy.
“Local authorities and construction developers are interested in exploring alternatives to oil and gas – they have to be, because legislation will soon be introduced to ban gas heating in new builds,” Pearson added. “Heat pumps are an effective long-term solution; they just need effective long-term investment. The U.K.’s rivers, canals and coastline can all be used to extract heat; we just need a sensible deployment strategy.”
Star Refrigeration has already helped push the agenda forward by installing the largest river-source ammonia heat pump in the country. The first-of-its-kind 5.2MW (1.48TR) system provides low-carbon heat for 1,200 homes and businesses in a district heating network in Clydebank, west of Glasgow. The project won the 2021 City of the Year award from the European Heat Pump Association.
Financial viability of heat pumps in the U.K.
However, getting the Scottish heating supply decarbonized is not as straightforward as Star could wish, despite the technology being available already. “The challenge we face is financial viability – but policy changes could unlock investment for the sector, and more heat pumps would mean thousands of new jobs for the U.K. workforce,” Pearson said.
To achieve viability, Star is proposing a change to U.K. electricity charges outside peak hours. “The current electricity charging mechanisms [controlled by the U.K. government] mean that despite delivering a carbon saving of around 90%, the cost of running heat pumps is four times as high as it would be if the electricity outside of peak times was priced at a more sensible level of 20% above generation cost,” the company’s post said. “This would be an incentive for organizations exploring green energy, and in turn, the production and deployment of heat pumps could generate billions in tax revenue for the U.K. economy from the economic activity and jobs.”
“It is very clear that U.K. Government policy on electricity pricing is the bridge to billions of pounds of investment leading to cleaner air and decarbonisation whilst raising huge amounts of tax revenue. We hope they realize their role as the Scottish Government cannot change these policies and yet they would be very easy to adjust.”
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