Bespoke-designed, prefabricated heating equipment provides low disruption solution for high-performance heat at social housing estate

Wakefield and District Housing (WDH) has improved the reliability and efficiency of the heating and hot water service at its Smirthwaite housing estate with the installation of eight new Remeha Gas 220 Ace boilers using a Remeha prefabricated cascade arrangement.

One the UK’s largest social housing providers, WDH is committed to excellence and performance. Heating and hot water are critical services for residents, so ensuring that the system operates reliably is a top priority for the WDH technical services team. In line with its wider sustainability commitments, WDH also works to mitigate rising energy costs wherever possible for its tenants.

The Smirthwaite Estate in Normanton consists of 192 two-bedroom maisonettes, 70 three-bedroom houses and 14 one-bedroom bungalows. Previously, three 25-year-old boilers had served two district heating circuits which in turn feed heat interface units (HIUs) within the individual dwellings to provide heating and hot water services.

When the old boilers came to the end of their serviceable life, the WDH technical services team installed temporary plant to maintain the service while they evaluated the feasible options.

A major concern was to avoid disruption wherever possible for the residents. This included keeping downtime to a minimum and avoiding the need to enter properties.

“We were keen to explore the use of renewable technologies, either to replace or assist new gas-fired boilers,” said Stephen Dumbrell, WDH’s Assistant Mechanical Services Manager. “Given the nature of the existing heating system at Smirthwaite and therefore the possible limitations, we asked Rob Wilson at Building Services Solutions to carry out an appraisal of the low carbon options.”

The findings of the report ruled out air source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps and biomass as practical alternatives at the estate, as consultant Rob Wilson explained.

“For a number of reasons – including space constraints, insufficient power supply, noise, the existing distribution system and operating temperatures – these technologies had to be disregarded as viable options,” he said.

His recommendation was to install modular, energy-efficient replacement boilers with a Plate Heat Exchanger to deliver long-term improved heating reliability while reducing energy consumption and carbon and NOx emissions.

“This was the most practical, cost-effective and reliable approach to improve outcomes for residents on the Smirthwaite estate,” Rob continued. “It met all of WDH’s requirements, providing a more energy-efficient heating and hot water service, minimising disruption to residents, and enabling easy future maintenance by their inhouse technical team.”

Rob specified installing eight Remeha Gas 220 Ace 300 in a back-to-back arrangement using a Remeha off-site fabricated cascade system with a Plate Heat Exchanger (PHEX). Remeha is part of Baxi Commercial Solutions.

“I’ve used the Remeha pre-assembled rig systems before,” Rob commented. “The products, design and customer service from the Baxi Commercial Solutions team are all excellent. WDH’s technical services team are also familiar with Remeha products and have a great relationship with the sales and technical support teams, so it was a logical selection.”

Working with Rob and WDH, the Baxi Commercial Solutions team prepared CAD and 3D drawings of the boiler cascade arrangement bespoke to the design parameters and integrated specially sized pump sets and a PHEX into the design. The PHEX was recommended to separate the new boilers from the existing district heating distribution system and protect them from any debris, corrosion or poor water quality.

In addition to the boilers, pumps and PHEX, the packaged solution included a pressurisation unit, a dosing pot and an expansion vessel.

The detailed CAD and 3D drawings provided early visualisation of the layout. Through subsequent collaborative discussions with the group, revisions were considered and implemented to reach a final design that met all the site constraints and requirements. Production then took place in a factory environment, with comprehensive end-of-line testing.

The equipment was delivered to site in clearly numbered pallets with a reference drawing for guidance. The WDH technical services team then bolted the boilers together and connected them to the existing system.

“It is very unusual for an inhouse team to be able to carry out a project of this scale,” said Stephen. “One of the many benefits of using the rig was that it provided a good structure for our engineers,” he explained. “It avoided the need to size all the individual components and, as no welding was required, saved a significant amount of installation time.”

The switch to the new boilers took around four hours, allowing WDH to achieve their key goal for minimal downtime and disruption to residents.

“The whole process was seamless,” Stephen added. “It says a lot that the residents weren’t even aware that we were refurbishing the heating system!”

Jason Male was one of the WDH engineers on the project. So how did he find working on the installation?

“This was a great project to be involved with and everything ran very smoothly,” Jason said. “The rig is outstanding and looks really impressive,” he continued. “The support we received from the Baxi team throughout was top notch. They were brilliant to work with and really helpful – we couldn’t have asked for better!”

On both an operational and aesthetic level, the outcome is ticking all the boxes.

“The plant room has been completely transformed,” Stephen continued. “We now have a very well organised plant room that makes the best use of space and provides good accessibility to all the boilers for future maintenance to optimise efficiency and reliability.”

Commissioning was carried out by Baxi Commercial Services engineers who safety tested the installation in conjunction with the WDH site team and control specialist.

Baxi Commercial Services will also provide WDH’s technical services team with onsite training on the new boilers to ensure ongoing high performance.

WDH are anticipating a considerable reduction in energy consumption moving forward from the more energy-efficient equipment and design. There is also the expectation of welcome operational cost savings from the more efficient system with the removal of expensive breakdown callouts.

“It’s a great system and a fantastic achievement. We’re delighted with the service we have received throughout from Baxi Commercial Solutions – and the results,” Stephen concluded.

Martyn Shaw, Executive Director of Technical Services at WDH, said: “I am extremely proud of what we have achieved. Our teams have gone over and above to overcome a complex issue, showing dedication, innovation and due diligence to get the job done well for our customers.

“The simple fact that the residents at Smirthwaite saw little or no disruption during the transition to the new system, is a testament to the in-house talent we have at WDH. The system will help us to achieve our aim of creating better, more sustainable places to live.”

The fully-modulating Remeha Gas 220 Ace series is available in 160 kW, 200 kW, 250 kW and 300 kW outputs with cascade options. The Gas 220 Ace delivers higher-than-average gross efficiencies of up to 98% with low NOx emissions. It is supplied with onboard time and temperature controls, with direct connection to a Building Management System provided as standard to maximise heating efficiency.



The “1+X” Modular Inverter features a 1.1 MW single unit as the minimum, and the maximum capacity can be expanded to 8.8 MW by combing eight units together. To meet their requirements, customers can choose from 1.1 MW to 8.8 MW.

From component to system, modularization uniqueness is one of a kind in the industry. The modular design realizes the plug and play function, greatly reducing the maintenance time and even allowing implementation without professionals. In addition, it exceedingly reduces generation loss as the remaining module continues operation when a single module fails. Moreover, O&M efficiency increases by 70% as a failed module can be directly replaced via the backup module.

As a result of the higher power density and larger blocks, the “1+X” Modular Inverter helps reduce the cost of transportation and balance of system (BOS) construction charges. The inverter is equipped with Static Var Generator (SVG) function, ensuring no additional SVG devices and furthering ROI.

The “1+X” Modular Inverter represents figures of modularization with multiple MPPT, leading to more power generation. It breaks through the problem of the limited amount of MPPTs in the traditional solution. Each module is designed with an independent MPPT, further improving the power generation capacity of the power plant.

A safer and more reliable system

The “1+X” Modular Inverter is not only more flexible and convenient for maintenance post-installation, but also safer and more reliable as it has IP65 protection capability. Further, it ensures prompt DC Arc detection and active protection, such as a parallel arcing off time of less than 40 ms.

The product is also equipped with an Intelligent IV diagnosis function, enabling accurate, convenient, safe, and reliable diagnosis for the power plant with a recognition accuracy of more than 95%.

Stronger power grid support

The “1+X” Modular Inverter has industry-leading Grid Support technologies that meet new power system requirements, allowing stable operation in the weak grid, even SCR=1.02 and enabling the reactive response time within 20 ms. The solution can possess continuous low voltage ride through (LVRT) and high voltage ride through (HVRT) capacity without off-grid in the extra high voltage (EHV) grid.

Designed for future hybrid applications

Energy storage is a vital path in tackling the volatility and intermittence of proliferating renewable energy. This is critical to facilitating a quick and smooth transition to a low-carbon future. The robust “1+X” Modular Inverter comes with the DC energy storage interface built into this solution. This supports connecting to the energy storage system; thus, enabling customers to enjoy the storage function for future energy usage.

Environmental sustainability

Since the “1+X” Modular Inverter makes O&M more hassle-free, it helps reduce material usage including water, steel, and even less electricity, making it more environmentally friendly.

On the other hand, as a dedicated member of RE100, EP100, and UNGC, Sungrow continues cutting its internal carbon footprints in manufacturing and operations by using clean energy. Further, the Company continues to enhance energy productivity for both economic and environmental concerns.

“The ‘1+X’ Modular Inverter redefines the inverter with both sides of ‘string inverter’ and ‘central inverter’ and is definitely one of the game-changing innovations that shape future energy as it incubates more possibilities for different stakeholders,” said Jack Gu, Senior Vice President of Sungrow.

The Company profiled the best of its technical innovations during Intersolar Europe with other portfolios exhibited as well, including the PV Magazine Award-winning inverter SG350HX, the liquid cooled energy storage system PowerTitan, and its residential solar-storage-EV charging solution and more.


Learn more about Sungrow by visiting:

A well-attended and progressive church at the heart of a Welsh town is nearing the end of the first phase of an ambitious refurbishment project intended to help it meet the needs of local families, across all age groups, with improved facilities and as part of the work, a new underfloor heating system featuring the use of two different OMNIE systems will provide a warming welcome for all.

Established nearly 150 years ago, Cilgal Baptist Church stands close to the centre of Porthcawl, a popular coastal destination, built in the traditional style from stone and slate, with a separate hall. Recognising however, that the spaces did not have the ideal layout or amenities, Gilgal’s administration began planning a three year programme of alterations to transform the main building – the Sanctuary – and then rebuild the adjoining hall. The changes within the Sanctuary include the creation of a function area with kitchen and new toilets, plus various adaptations for those with mobility issues. A modern main entrance will give access to an enlarged reception area, while a new steel mezzanine structure creates additional space for various activities. The work is being carried out by Cardiff based LCB Construction along with its group company, Tim O’Brien M&E installing the OMNIE Staple and TorFloor systems, along with a new 50kW gas boiler to improve the efficiency of the church’s heating and hot water delivery. Improved lighting and sound systems have also been included to make the interiors a better place for both worship and recreation.


Operations Manager for LCB Construction, Simon Baldwin, said: “The work involves removing cast iron pipework and radiators, which are being replaced with the Staples and TorFloor underfloor heating systems, while also fitting a new 50 kW gas boiler. Our group has employed OMNIE underfloor heating systems on a number of projects in the past including private schemes and in the case of a building like this, with considerable spaces to heat, they offered an ideal means of maintaining the design temperatures while avoiding taking up lots of wall area with traditional emitters.” A spokesperson for the Gilgal Baptist Church added: “The changes are intended to ensure our buildings are fit for purpose: to keep us abreast with modern worship trends, to serve our community better and to provide the type of flexible facilities that families will enjoy and benefit from a plan to make our church a place of glory to God.”


OMNIE’S Staples system, which has been used across a large proportion of the church and the adjoining function space as well as the office, is installed by clipping the continuous pipe runs to rigid insulation at 150mm spacings, itself secured across the concrete subfloor. The entire area is then screeded to make full contact with the pipework and achieve excellent levels of heat transmission to the occupied space, while OMNIE provides clients with a full table of heat outputs in Watts which will be delivered, depending on the choice of floor covering, including tiles, vinyl, timber and carpet with underlay. The specification switches to OMNIE’s versatile TorFloor system for areas like the kitchen, toilets and other parts of the church. Across all of the 10 zones which are fed from four multi-port manifolds measuring up to 920mm wide, the circuits are designed for a flow temperature of 55 C to give a return temperature of 48 C in order to maximise the performance of the condensing boiler.

The pipe spacing within the TorFloor panels is again 150mm, while the routed channels are covered by a temper aluminium foil diffuser layer to optimise output. Importantly, the TorFloor panels combine the ability to span upper storey joists or battens fitted across a ground level slab, to provide high efficiency underfloor heating and a structural deck in a single product. Thus saving both time and money on installation, while avoiding the need for separate particleboard or other flooring panels. This makes TorFloor an ideal solution for use in either new-build or refurbishment/retrofit situations, while the high output characteristics also means it suitable for connection to OMNIE’s air source or ground source heat pumps. There is also an acoustic version of TorFloor which has been developed to cut sound transmission between different floor levels, which is ideal for multi-storey residential conversions.

Steve Richmond, Head of Marketing and Technical at REHAU

The Government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy is a welcome development in decarbonising the UK heating sector, but must be supported by further policy if net zero is to be achieved, according to polymer pipework specialist REHAU.

The long-awaited strategy was launched October 2021 by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), with the £450 million Boiler Upgrade Scheme being the centrepiece of the development. From April 2022, homeowners will be eligible for £5 – 6K grants to install heat pumps, with the intention of driving down the cost of clean heat and reducing dependence on fossil fuels.

However, REHAU has advised that greater scope will be necessary if climate targets are to be achieved. Steve Richmond, Head of Marketing and Technical at REHAU, said: “The Boiler Upgrade Scheme is a really positive development for the uptake of cleaner technology. However, at £5 – 6K funding per heat pump, we’re only providing scope for a maximum of 90,000 installations. The UK is currently installing roughly 35,000 each year, so we need to be more ambitious if we are to reach the Prime Minister’s target of 600,000 heat pumps per annum by 2028.

“With increasing installations, the Government’s ambition is to reduce the cost of heat pumps by 25 – 50 % by 2025. However, the number of trained installers and manufacturing costs are likely to be a challenge here. The Government has signalled that they want to see more local manufacturing for low-carbon solutions, and REHAU has been manufacturing its pre-insulated RAUVITHERM pipe since 2012, which is used for both heat pumps and district heating.”

District heating networks also feature heavily in the strategy, with a £338 million investment in the Heat Network Transformation Programme set to take place between 2022 and 2025. Other measures such as the £150 million Home Upgrade Grant have been put in place to help off-gas grid homes achieve a reduction in their carbon emissions.

With the Future Homes Standard also set to ban gas boilers in new builds by 2025, heat pumps and district heating networks are expected to become the new standard for residential heating. Growing uptake of low-carbon heat sources has in turn lead to increased demand for energy-efficient heat distribution solutions, such as underfloor heating & cooling or Thermally Activated Building Structures (TABS), which makes use of a building’s natural structure to both heat and cool.

Steve concluded: “With the decision on hydrogen’s future being pushed back to 2026, there is a greater need than ever to evaluate our path to net zero. The launch of the Government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy is a vital step in this journey, but cannot bear the load of this challenge alone. Only through the support of other initiatives will we achieve a net zero Britain.”

For more information on REHAU’s low carbon district heating solutions, CLICK HERE:

Tokamak Energy has demonstrated a transformative magnet protection technology that improves the commercial viability of fusion power plants.  This next generation technology delivers higher performance than alternative magnet systems. 

Results from the latest tests validate a revolutionary approach to scaling up high temperature superconducting (HTS) magnets, which are highly resilient to plasma disruptions.  The technology, known as “partial insulation”, allows the magnets to be built and operated at power plant size and provides a simpler alternative to traditional superconducting magnet protection systems.  It therefore enhances and accelerates the commercial viability of fusion power.

For the first time, this latest test gives fusion developers an option for a new design of superconducting magnet that will be resistant to damage, reducing the cost and complexity of damage mitigation systems and the threat of downtimeThe world needs energy that is clean, secure, cheap and globally deployable, and the magnets Tokamak Energy is developing will enable this future.  Tokamak Energy’s two world leading core technologies – the spherical tokamak and HTS magnets – are central to the company’s mission to develop economic fusion in compact power plants,” said Chris Kelsall, CEO of Tokamak Energy.

Tokamaks use magnets to contain and isolate a plasma so that it can reach the high temperatures at which fusion occurs.  High magnetic fields are necessary for tokamaks to contain the superheated fuel, and higher magnetic fields enable a smaller tokamak.  High temperature superconductors can create these much stronger magnetic fields and so are important for commercial fusion power.

Building on this success, the Tokamak Energy team is currently manufacturing a new test facility and demonstration system with a full set of magnets.  This will test the interaction of all the HTS magnets and validate their use within a full tokamak system for the first time.  The new magnet system is scheduled for testing in 2022.

Robert Slade, Advanced Technology Applications Director at Tokamak Energy, said:

“This impressive demonstration of partial insulation technology opens the door to a new frontier in magnet technology, enabling the novel technology we have developed for our spherical tokamaks to be utilized in a wide range of emerging applications that need high field compact HTS magnets.”

The full results of the magnet test campaign have been presented by Senior HTS Magnet Engineer, Bas van Nugteren, at this year’s European Conference on Applied Superconductivity (EUCAS 2021) – (see video link below). The benefits of partial insulation for a fusion scale tokamak feature in the recently published peer reviewed roadmap for fusion magnet technology in the Superconductor Science and Technology journal.

About Tokamak Energy

Tokamak Energy is a leading global commercial fusion energy company based near Oxford, UK.  The company is developing the fusion power plant of tomorrow while commercialising the tech applications of today.

Tokamak Energy is pursuing fusion through the combined development of spherical tokamaks along with high temperature superconducting (HTS) magnets.

In the ST-40 fusion prototype, Tokamak Energy has developed the most advanced compact spherical tokamak in the world – a key enabler of commercial fusion.  Plans are underway for the ST-40 to operate at 100m degree plasma in 2021, which will be a key milestone for commercial fusion and the first privately funded fusion module to reach this landmark globally.

Tokamak Energy received five US Department of Energy grants in 2020, creating partnerships with leading expertise in the US National Laboratory System.  The company is partnering with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory to develop the ST-40.  It has also received a £10m grant from the UK Government as part of investment under the Advanced Modular Reactor (AMR) programme.

Tokamak Energy is working with CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, on high temperature superconducting (HTS) magnets in developing a proprietary technology that will scale to the large magnets necessary for fusion power modules.  HTS magnets also have applications for particle accelerators, aerospace and for several other industrial sectors.

The company, founded in 2009 as a spin-off from the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, currently employs a growing team of over 180 people with talent from the UK and experts from around the world.  It combines world leading scientific, engineering, industrial and commercial capabilities.  The company has more than 50 families of patent applications and has raised over £100m of private investment.

Once realised, fusion energy will be clean, economic, and globally deployable – a key enabler for meeting international climate policy goals.


Road building projects come and go. No one wants cranes and diggers lurking on our streets longer than necessary, with traffic diverted one way and the other. The trick is to get the job done and move on. But how do you rig up cheap, clean electricity to temporary construction sites? That sounds too hard. Just hire a dirty diesel generator and be done with it.

Not so fast, says a company that has literally rolled out a simple but very effective PV power plant supplying an infrastructure project in southwest Melbourne.

At Hoppers Crossing, where a level rail crossing on Old Geelong Road is being replaced with a traffic and pedestrian bridge, an 80kW system is powering eight site sheds with clean solar energy. Black Stump Technologies’ “mobile renewable generator” consists of two 20-foot shipping containers, each fitted with an array of 40 solar panels that can be rolled away and locked into the containers at day’s end so no-one’s tempted to mess about with them overnight.

“It doesn’t have to be rolled away and locked up … but it can be,” says Black Stump national accounts manager Tom Small. “In the bigger picture it’s designed to be easily moved from site to site.”

Solar may be growing fast across the suburbs of Australia but it is seldom possible to get close to the stuff, so generating solutions that can be rolled out like a picnic blanket at shoulder height will play a role in piquing the interest of the passing throng.

The plant will work at Hoppers Crossing for about a year and then move on to another role, just like any worker who follows work around town. Surplus energy from the plant is exported to the grid to earn the feed-in tariff.

A 20-year warranty on the Longi panels and 10-year warranty for the Fronius inverters assure Black Top’s containerised system a long working life. The castors the framework rolls about on are big enough to manage “reasonably level” ground, he says. A stricter requirement for deployment is that a site should have no shading – or as little as possible.

For Small the solution goes right to the heart of sustainability, where the whole point is “to stop disposing of things”.


First response

Black Stump started its journey about five years ago, directing its efforts first of all to the aid industry. When communities in far-flung parts of the Asia-Pacific are hit hard by natural disasters its vital to restore essential services as quickly as possible, but electricity may have relied on frail connections destroyed by the raging elements.

“Our containers were designed to be shipped out and deployed rapidly, within an hour or so of arrival,” Small says. The handy mobile plants have also been used in remote locations around Australia, some of them literally on the other side of the black stump.

As construction and infrastructure companies rein in emissions, Black Stump wants to remind them clean energy solutions can be delivered and plugged in as modular units. “We want to replace diesel in construction,” says Small, conceding that it will take a lot more available ground to host a roll-in, roll-out solar plant than a diesel generator. “We’re going to start where there is room … we need sites that are flat, have no shade and where there is some space.” He guesses about 30% of construction sites qualify.

Hoppers Crossing has seen 20 near misses since 2012 and holds up more than 20,000 vehicles per day. Across Melbourne, more than 46 level crossings have been removed, with more than 20 sites in construction and more in planning.

Available with batteries

Diesel is an unpleasant fuel source, responsible for producing particulate matter, nitrous oxide and carbon, but it’s convenient and predictable. A site that relied on Black Stump’s solar technology would most probably rely on diesel and the grid for balancing – especially in winter – but the company is ambitious to take business from diesel in the long term.

The containerised plants can also include a battery or diesel genset running on biodiesel or regular diesel. “We try to target about 80% renewable generation using a combination of solar and battery,” Small says. “As battery prices come down we are going to try to squeeze diesel out – but batteries are expensive.”

Source: EcoGeneration


The government’s response to its 2019 Future Homes Standard consultation gives us a clearer picture of what the homes of 2050 might look like. But is it a workable vision? And does it go far enough? Nick Gander and Rod Davies of far-infrared heating specialists Energy Carbon give their take.

In January, as millions of people adjusted to life under the third national coronavirus lockdown, the government quietly released a document with sweeping implications for the future of UK construction.
The Future Homes Standard is Whitehall’s attempt to dramatically reduce the environmental damage caused by Britain’s houses and its housebuilding sector, as part of broader efforts to achieve net-zero carbon by 2050.  Its aim is simple, but far-reaching. It’s designed to cut the carbon produced by the average new-build house by between 75 and 80% in the coming years – something that would make a huge contribution to that quest for net-zero.

In October 2019, the government put its initial proposals to the public and interested experts in the form of a consultation. It was the response to that consultation that they released at the start of this year.
Originally, ministers had intended to introduce interim measures in 2020 to strengthen Building Regulations as a stepping-stone to the full Future Homes Standard. These measures would aim to cut the carbon emissions of the average new-build by 31%.  Unsurprisingly, given the vast disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, this was postponed.  In its consultation response, however, the government announced that this interim phase would begin in 2021. Details will be finalised by December 2021, before coming into force officially in June 2022.

The wheels starting to turn?
We also got some much-needed clarification about exactly what the measures would entail.  With its interim ‘stepping-stone’ to the full Future Homes Standard, the government’s aim is to ensure that new-built homes are not installed with fossil fuel heating after 2025, and won’t require further retrofitting to make them fit for 2050.  The government is also set to close the loophole that’s previously allowed builders to only have to meet the energy efficiency standards that were in place when a development first started, even if those standards change in the meantime.

From now on, rules will apply to individual buildings, not whole developments.  These are all extremely welcome moves. It feels like, finally, the wheels of the urgently-needed net-zero transition are starting to turn.  However, there are aspects of the government’s proposals we’re less impressed with.

No magic bullet
In their consultation response, ministers explicitly say that “low carbon heating systems will be integral to the specification of the Future Homes Standard”.  However, they then go on to say that “we anticipate that heat pumps will become the primary heating technology for new homes”.  At Energy Carbon, we’ve long been arguing that there’s no magic bullet solution to low-carbon heating, and that in 2050, we’re likely to draw on a variety of different technologies to help us heat homes both sustainably and efficiently. We believe that air-source and ground-source heat pumps have their place – but they come with their own issues.

The first relates to their longevity. Heat pumps aren’t just very expensive, they require increasingly expensive annual maintenance visits, and even then, a heat pump product installed today is likely to need replacing a number of times between now and 2050.  That means a huge amount more embodied carbon (a yardstick of sustainability that the government short-sightedly aren’t using as part of the Future Homes Standard as it stands) – and many heat pump products use refrigerants that themselves contribute to global warming when they’re released into the atmosphere.  What’s more, heat pumps are extremely complex products – meaning any maintenance or replacement work requires the services of specialist engineers, who, for the moment at least, are very few and far between.  We therefore believe that the government is being very short-sighted by presenting this one heating technology as the solution to a complex problem – a problem likely to need all sorts of different systems to properly address.

The case for infra-red
So far in any of its documentation relating to the Future Homes Standard, the government is yet to mention the huge potential of our own area of expertise – far-infrared.
Infrared refers to a division of the electromagnetic spectrum. Within that division, there are three types of infra-red radiation: near infrared, mid infrared and far-infrared – and it’s far-infrared that’s by far the most beneficial for heating homes and its occupants.  In fact, it’s the exact same frequency of light called ‘the light of life’ generated by the sun, invisible to the naked eye, but capable of warming us directly.
Far-infrared radiation warms all the surfaces and objects in a room, rather than the air – and those surfaces and objects then go on to radiate heat themselves.  The embodied heat gathered in these areas slowly releases back into the room, letting occupants turn down the thermostat.  This in turn allows for a very fast reaction time to perfectly control the room temperature.  Its fast reaction times mean occupiers feel the benefits within minutes of the thermostat switching back on – saving energy, and cutting carbon emissions.

We believe it can make a major contribution to the collective effort to reach zero carbon by 2050 – and we call on the government to seriously consider promoting its use as part of the Future Homes Standard.


The existing Borssele nuclear power plant (Image: EPZ)

EPZ, operator of the Borssele nuclear power plant, has called for an extension to its operation beyond 2033 and/or the construction of two new large reactors at the site in order to help the Netherlands meet its energy and climate goals. The company’s director, Carlo Wolters, presented EPZ’s vision yesterday at a parliamentary debate on the role of nuclear power in the Dutch energy system.

Nuclear power has a small role in the Dutch electricity supply, with the 485 MWe (net) Borssele pressurised water reactor providing about 3% of total generation. The plant was built by Siemens and has been in operation since 1973. It is scheduled to close in 2033.

In a position paper published on 28 November, EPZ said electrification in many areas of the energy sector will lead to a sharp rise in power demand in the Netherlands over the next 15 years. “EPZ foresees that all climate-neutral electricity sources must be used for to meet this increasing electricity demand,” it said.

“As far as EPZ is concerned, nuclear energy is also in the future under certain conditions one of these climate neutral sources …  Two options (or a combination thereof) are obvious,” it said. These are an extension to the operation of the existing Borssele reactor and/or the construction of two new reactors on the same site.

EPZ said it wants to investigate, together with the government, what the technical-economic preconditions are for an extension after 2033 of the current Borssele reactor. An operating time extension of 10 to 20 years is possible, it said. It noted that a letter from EPZ about this had already been sent to Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Policy Eric Wiebes and the House of Representatives. Any market risk must be covered in the business case for the extension, EPZ said.

EPZ is in favour of constructing two new 1500 MWe reactors at Borssele before the mid-1930s. It said a precondition is the choice of a proven (and licensed) reactor design of which the permit and consultation processes can be completed on time. Subsequently, during the construction no changes to design and regulations are made. Finally it is necessary that any market risk in the business case is covered by the government.

“With an adequate project progression, the costs of a new Generation III reactor are between EUR8 and EUR10 billion and the construction time is about eight years,” EPZ said.

With a combination of these two options, by the mid-2030s the installed climate-neutral capacity at Borssele could be about 3500 MWe, with an availability of 90%, EPZ said. This would be sufficient to meet about 25% of current Dutch electricity demand.

“A fully climate-neutral energy system by 2050 remains within reach, even if electricity consumption continues to increase,” it said. If it keeps the existing Borssele reactor operating and constructs two new ones, the emission of about 13 megatonnes of carbon dioxide will be avoided, it added.

However, EPZ said government support will be needed for nuclear new build to be an option. The government must set financial and political-social frameworks (permits, financial guarantees and sureties). “This gives investors the guarantee that investments made over the long exploitation period can be recouped from a nuclear power plant.” It added, “Only the government can set and monitor the necessary frameworks.”

The Netherlands is considering the expansion of nuclear power in its energy mix, according to a letter Wiebes submitted to the Dutch parliament in September, together with a report by consultants Enco. The cabinet is now preparing a motion requesting that the country holds a market consultation to assess commercial interest in nuclear new build.


Source: World Nuclear News



Follow us on Twitter            Join us on Linked in  


Image credit: Dogger Bank

The project will have three phases and will power up six million homes per year


The UK, already the world’s leader in offshore wind, is getting ready to start construction of what will be the world’s biggest offshore wind park, Dogger Bank. The British utility company SSE and the Norwegian energy firm Equinor agreed to invest $8 billion in the project, which will be used to build the first two phases.

Dogger Bank is an isolated sandbank within the central to southern North Sea spanning UK, German, Danish and Dutch waters. The area was a landmass connecting the UK to mainland Europe. As the sea level rose after the last ice age, Dogger Bank became an island before being completely covered by water about 8,000 years ago.

The wind farm is being developed in three phases, Dogger Bank A, Dogger Bank B, and Dogger Bank C, located between 130km and 190km from the North East coast of England. Collectively they will become the world’s largest offshore wind farm. Each phase will have an installed generation capacity of up to 1.2 gigawatts (GW).

The construction of the first two phases, with 2.4 GW capacity, will be financed by a group of 29 banks and three credit export agencies. They will be built at the same time starting in 2021 to maximize the synergies due to their geographical proximity and make use of common technology and contractors.

The project will be the first to feature the 13MW General Electric (GE) Haliade-X, the largest wind turbine in the world. One rotation of the Haliade-X is estimated to power a British home for two days. Once completed, Dogger Bank will power up to six million homes annually in the UK, equivalent to 5% of the country’s electricity demand.

Join the ZME newsletter for amazing science news, features, and exclusive scoops. More than 40,000 subscribers can’t be wrong.

Alistair Phillips-Davies, SSE Chief Executive, said in a statement: “We are putting our money where our mouth is on delivering net-zero and reinforcing the UK’s position as a world leader. This investment will help drive a green recovery from coronavirus through the project’s construction over the next five years.”

The UK is already the world leader in offshore wind, with more installed capacity than any other country. Offshore wind now powers the equivalent of 4.5 million homes per year and in many areas, wind is now the lowest cost option for new power in the UK, cheaper than new fossil fuel or nuclear power projects.

UK Primer Minister Boris Johnson announced this year a plan for offshore wind to power every home in the UK by 2030. This will require a $66 billion in investment and the equivalent of one turbine to be installed every weekday for the whole of the next decade, an analysis by Aurora Energy Research.

“Your kettle, your washing machine, your cooker, your heating, your plug-in electric vehicle – the whole lot of them will get their juice cleanly and without guilt from the breezes that blow around these islands,” Johnson said in a press conference in October, as part of a “build back greener” initiative.

Source: ZME science


Follow us on Twitter            Join us on Linked in  

Building sensors could be crucial in driving environmental initiatives, such as the UK government’s pledge for carbon-neutral status by 2050

#carbonneutral #climatechange #smartbuildings #construction

The built environment contributes around 40% of the UK’s total carbon footprint. Unfortunately, around half of this is from the energy used in buildings. Whilst many newly constructed dwellings are designed to be more energy-efficient, a major priority is decarbonising the existing building stock, of which 80% will still be standing when the UK is to meet its carbon-neutral status by 2050. In light of Energy Efficiency Day, Stacey Lucas from Sontay explains how the presence of building sensors optimise energy performance in both new and older buildings, driving the stock towards the all-important smartness and efficiency that is essential to the current and future health of our environment.

Building sensors, installed as part of an efficient central management system, offer an ingeniously smart and effective way of remotely monitoring elements such as temperature, air quality and ventilation. In doing so, not only do they help maintain a healthy indoor climate for the occupiers’ comfort and peace of mind, sensors give property owners more agency over energy usage; a benefit that not only helps reduce heating and lighting costs, but also facilitates a significant reduction in a building’s carbon footprint. Their usage could therefore be crucial in driving environmental initiatives, such as the UK government’s pledge for carbon-neutral status by 2050.

It is in no doubt, then, that sensors have found themselves at the heart of what we call smart buildings. According to the ‘Smart Building: Energy efficiency application’ document produced by the European Commission’s Digital Transformation Monitor, a smart building is defined as ‘a set of communication technologies enabling different objects, sensors and functions within a building to communicate and interact with each other and also to be managed, controlled and automated in a remote way.’ Sensors are smart devices that sense when and how a building’s energy performance can be adapted, consistently monitoring, measuring and evaluating data which feeds into a central management or control system.

The rise of smart sensors

A control system’s sustenance, sensors play an essential role in the energy-efficient operation of a smart building. Sontay’s smart sensors in particular offer full environmental sensing in a single device. This ingenious sensor can measure a myriad of elements including temperature, RH, CO2, light level, and occupancy or local devices independently. Typically, traditional sensors require up to seven cable inputs into a controller, making for a lengthy installation. A Sontay smart sensor, however, only needs a single cable connection to perform the same duty with greater efficiency, and can be mapped to any device or freely programmed into a building’s network.

Efficiency can also be related to the health and wellbeing of occupants, as well as the climate. In terms of air quality, airborne volatile organic compounds (VOC), pollutants which are found in paints and other building materials, are known to have a detrimental effect. The same harmful chemicals are also present in hand sanitisers, aggressive cleaning products and detergents, the demand for which has been unprecedented since the onset of the coronavirus crisis. Air quality sensors are able to measure VOC levels and alert the control system or occupants of the need to take action when a potentially hazardous reading is recorded to allow for ventilation to kick in.



There are also sensors available which prevent the unwelcome pervasion of CO2 in an over-inhabited space. A CO2 sensor with an LED traffic light-style display is a potential remedy for this issue. When showing green, the sensor is indicating that a room isn’t over-occupied and the risk to air quality is low. Should the sensor show amber, it’s a sign that windows require opening or fewer people need to be in the room to maintain the same healthy indoor environment. When the sensor turns red it is a call to action, as it indicates there is not enough ventilation and possible over occupancy in the room. At these last two stages, if a sensor is connected to a building management system, it will activate relevant ventilation procedure in order to ensure a space’s occupants do not feel uncomfortable.

Controlling a whole host of elements including heating, cooling and lighting, smart building sensors can ensure dwellings run as energy efficiently as possible. Although small in size, sensors offer fierce capability, and will go some way to enabling both new and older buildings perform well into the future, for the benefit of our beloved environment. It only seems natural, therefore, to celebrate the humble building sensor on this Energy Efficiency Day.

For more information please visit