With the Green Deal beginning to build momentum and the imminent arrival of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) this year, the domestic heating industry is once again poised and ready for change. Here, Francine Wickham, Global Marketing Director at Fernox talks about potential implications and how chemical water treatment will be playing its part.
Despite the Green Deal being heralded as the Government’s ‘flagship’ energy policy, it’s had a somewhat shaky start. Since its launch, there has been a worryingly low number of households taking advantage of its financial mechanism to make energy efficiency and thermal performance upgrades.
However, the latest statistics show that we are at least moving in the right direction, albeit slowly. By the end of September 2013, there were over 85,000 Green Deal Assessments lodged and 954 Green Deal plans, which had reached the ‘quote accepted’ stage. In addition, by the end of the same month, there were 57 Green Deal plans that had become ‘live.’
In addition, the ECO initiative that is running alongside the scheme is bearing fruit, with the Affordable Warmth Obligation proving a valuable source of funding for heating measures within those homes that qualify under the means-tested scheme. From this almost 40,000 new boilers have been installed. In 2013, OFTEC and the HHIC both reported on the marked increase in boiler sales.
Furthermore, this year we will see the household scheme element of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), get underway in Spring. The first long-term financial support programme for renewable heat is expected to help the UK reduce greenhouse gas emissions by paying participants to generate and use renewable energy to heat their buildings. Given that the RHI can help reduce the time it takes for households to recoup the initial costs involved in installing and maintaining a renewable heating system – the industry is likely to see a sales increase in biomass boilers, solar thermal systems and air and ground source heat pumps.
Whatever the type of heating system, chemical water treatment will have an important role to play. This is because without it, all water based central heating systems will be vulnerable to black oxide sludge, which forms as a result of electrolytic corrosion, which can cause a reduction in heat transfer efficiency.
As outlined in Part L of the Building Regulations, traditional systems must be cleaned using chemical water treatments such as Fernox Cleaner F3 or Powerflushing Cleaner F5. A Buildcert approved inhibitor should then be used, such as Fernox Protector F1 to maintain efficiency. These levels must remain at the correct concentration throughout the life of the system to ensure long term performance.
Furthermore, many installers have spent the last two years educating themselves and attending key training courses on renewable technologies. The expectation in 2014 is that we will see more renewable installations coming through, with the RHI financial incentive finally in place.
As such, installers need to be aware that solar thermal, air and ground source heat pumps are also susceptible to the damaging effects of limescale and sludge, which will ultimately reduce their efficiency. Consequently, since the 2010 revisions to Part L of the Building Regulations, chemical water treatments are also required for renewable installations, with each requiring a very specific solution,
For example, in the case of solar, those metals critical to solar collectors and solar thermal systems need protecting from the affects of corrosion at a range of temperatures. However, inhibited heat transfer fluids such as Fernox Solar S1 can provide a solution – providing frost protection to -28°C.
If you are dealing with heat pumps, these will require biocidal protection, as well as a means of preventing microbiological contamination. Installers must use specialist cleaners such as Fernox HP Cleaner to clean and disinfect ground arrays from the effects of bacterial slime and other contaminants before commissioning the system. Chemical water treatments such as Fernox HP Fill can be added at the early stages of pre commissioning – protecting the heat pump system during the groundwork stage of new builds. Finally, the Fernox HP range of heat transfer fluids provides frost protection and bacterial control through the inclusion of inhibitors and an active biocide that ensures system longevity.
Despite its hesitant start, we are fully expecting the Green Deal to gain momentum in 2014, as more consumers are made aware of its benefits. This, along with ECO and the domestic RHI coming into play, against a backdrop of rising energy bills and a growing number of consumers looking to find ways to make long term savings – will surely mean the domestic heating industry will see some positive effects.
However for installers, our message is very clear. Whatever the system chosen to make the heating upgrade: chemical water treatment is a fundamental requirement. Only with its inclusion will consumers benefit from energy efficiency savings – for the life of the system.
For more information please visit: www.fernox.com
 Domestic Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation in Great Britain, Monthly report September 2013