Perfect Renewable Energy Combinations

Top renewable energy combinations

Just like strawberries and cream there are some combinations in life that work well together and just seem right. That’s also the case in the world of renewable technology. Below we list three of the top “green” technology partnerships that maximise efficiency and can save you money.

Heat Pumps and UFH

An obvious choice but features top of our list nonetheless. Heat pumps love cool heating circuit temperatures, the less they have to work to elevate outdoor temperatures to heat indoor emitters, the more efficiently they run.

Underfloor heating pipework arrangements allow low flow temperature water to heat a room using the full floor area as a radiating surface. Most layouts allow for rooms to be heated effectively by passing 45 degree Celcius water through the pipes even on the coldest outdoor winter days. Laying more pipework allows flow temperatures to reduce further and in Europe some schemes run at 35 degrees whilst still maintaining room comfort!

For heat pumps this is great news as higher flow temperatures can mean rapidly increasing inefficiency and rocketing electricity bills for the customer.

PV and Air Source Heat Pumps

Photovoltics have been installed by hundreds of thousands of UK residents over the last 5 years, but it is those individuals that have invested in air source heat pumps too that are seeing the biggest benefit.

Air source heat pumps use electricity to harvest energy from the air and rely on electricity to operate. Of course photovoltaic panels are designed to generate exactly that, electricity, and if the energy produced by the panels can be used on site your incoming electricity bill can be considerably reduced. Air source heat pumps because of their inverter technology are even better than ground source heat pumps in this instance.

In fact there are a number of times of year and conditions in which this partnership prospers:

  • Summer – Programming the heat pump to top up hot water in the middle of the day allows plenty of hot water in the evening for showers, and peak energy from sunlight to be used to help power the heat pump.
  • Spring and Autumn – As the days get a little cooler and the home needs more energy, the panels are continue to produce good levels of energy whilst the air source heat pump only uses small amounts of electricity throughout the day, to top up the home heating.
  • Winter – Even cold sunny days when the heating is being used frequently can benefit as the solar PV functions very efficiently.

Biomass and Solar Thermal

This combination is less obvious but is just as elegant as the others mentioned above. These two technologies work efficiently when combined in a thermal store. This is a large well insulated volume of water which has multiple fuel source coils built in to it; so that any individual energy source can contribute to heating the water contained.

The heated water is pumped directly round the heating system and the hot water is provided via an indirect coil in the tank, allowing for mains pressure hot water if desired too.

During the summer months the solar thermal is more than capable of heating the store.  If designed correctly will ensure that the solar fluid never reaches excessive temperatures that exacerbate premature solar fluid replacement, as there is always a sink for the heat off the roof. The ability of the solar thermal to meet demand has the added benefit of stopping the biomass boiler firing intermittently through the summer period and increasing wear on ignition components.

During the winter the biomass boiler contributes significantly to the solar store, whilst the solar thermal contributes marginally.

Year round these two technologies ensure that heating and hot water are provided for the household, whilst ensuring part life is extended further than most stand-alone systems.

Doug Johnson

Doug is a chartered mechanical engineer and has had the pleasure of being involved in the UK renewable sector since 2008. With wide-ranging operational and design experience in both the domestic and commercial sectors across a wide range of recognised technologies he hopes to be able to share his experience to help enlighten and save you hassle along the way.