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Heat pump that can replace gas boilers adds to technology’s feasibility

Published January 19, 2022

Heat pump that can replace gas boilers adds to technology’s feasibility

A Dutch consortium has launched a high-temperature heat pump solution that can replace gas boilers. The announcement adds to the mounting evidence for the feasibility of heat pumps in the UK market.

In December, a UK a government-funded ‘Electrification of Heat’ project demonstrated that heat pumps can be successfully installed in homes from every style and era, from Victorian terraces to 1960s blocks of flats.

Now, Dutch partners Vattenfall and Feenstra have launched a heat pump system that could be an easy replacement for traditional gas central heating boilers. The system can be swapped with conventional gas boiler meaning no additional costly retrofitting beyond the heat pump installation

The all-electric solution will first be rolled out in the Netherlands this year, with the aim of introducing it to countries with a need for this type of solution in the future.

The similarities between Dutch and British gas central heating mean these high temperature heat pumps could be suitable for UK housing in suburban and rural areas. They could enable households to swap out their existing gas boilers without needing to go to the additional expense and disruption of changing the rest of their heating system or installing additional insulation at the same time.

The announcement adds to the findings of the Electrification of Heat (EoH) demonstration project, which looked at the feasibility of a large-scale rollout of heat pumps into Britain’s existing housing stock.

During the recruitment and installation phase of the EoH project from July 2020 to October 2021, 742 heat pumps were installed into a range of housing types reflecting a sample of households across the UK.

A variety of heat pumps were installed, including ground-source heat pumps; low-temperature and high-temperature air-source heat pumps; hybrid heat pumps with a gas boiler, and additional technologies, such as heat batteries were also included.

Eighty per cent of the installations were in properties where the primary heating system was fuelled by mains gas prior to the heat pump installation.

The installation phase of the EoH project was successful in installing the full range of heat pump system types into the full range of targeted property types and ages.

The project did not identify any type or age of property that cannot have a successful heat pump installation. The suggestion that there are particular home types in Britain that are “unsuitable” for heat pumps is not supported by project experience and data.

The project found minor shortfalls in the number of installations for properties built pre-1945, which suggests it is more challenging to design heat pump systems for older homes.