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Domestic ground source heat pump (GSHP) users could earn around £3,000 a year in savings and income from the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), in the right circumstances, a new study has found. Air source heat pump (ASHP) users could earn around £1,350 a year in savings and income, according to the Energy Saving Trust.

The report, which builds on research carried out by the trust three years ago, found that the performance and efficiency of heat pumps has improved following recommendations that it made after initial work on design, installation and operation of the technologies.

Results from the first phase research showed wide variation in performance, with the best-performing systems being those that were considered to be properly designed and installed.  After the first phase, the trust worked with relevant trade bodies, heat pump manufacturers, Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) to improve heat pump installation guidelines and training.

Carried out between 2010 and 2013, the latest study is based on installations at 44 UK sites, and investigated variations in performance, intervening to make improvements. Interventions between phase 1 and the latest study achieved improvements in performance for 20 of the 32 heat pumps, with the remainder achieving similar or slightly lower performance.

Basis for the benefits

In July RHI tariff levels were set at 7.3p/kWh for ASHPs and 18.8p/kWh for GSHPs, payable for seven years. For the study, RHI income is based on a four bedroom detached home with 250mm loft insulation and filled cavity walls – minimum requirements for RHI – with electric storage heating. The income is calculated on the RHI tariff of 7.3p/kWh for renewable heat generated from ASHPs with an average seasonal performance factor (SPF) (H4) of 2.45; and 18.8p/kWh for renewable heat generated from GSHPs with an average SPF (H4) of 2.82, based on the results from the trust’s heat pump study.

The latest heat pump study was supported by DECC, the Energy Technologies Institute, EDF Energy, Npower, British Gas, Scottish Power, Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), E.On UK, NIE Energy, Danfoss UK, NIBE and Mitsubishi Electric.

The report, The heat is on: heat pump field trials phase 2 is available here.

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