SNP Government leads the way again, on high energy efficient homes for Scotland



I’ve been writing plenty about the robust health and future prospects of Scotland’s renewables and oil & gas energy sectors. Of course energy efficient homes are another important part of the overall strategy. Again the Scottish Government is ahead of the game on this. See this quote from leading economists from University of Strathclyde and the London School of Economics from a report by Elmhurst Energy:

‘Whilst in England and Wales there seems to be policy ‘black hole’ due to the repeated delays in the promised ‘Every Homes Matters’ report, which was supposed to highlight the way forward for energy efficiency strategies. Scotland seems to be making its way in the right direction. It can rightly now suggest that 40% of Scottish homes were now either A, B or C rated; something which is good news for those families. Recently First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon announced in the programme for her new Government that there would £20m available to be channelled into energy efficiency.’ 

We have another major project just approved to spend £11 million building 85 new affordable and energy efficient homes in Whitburn, West Lothian on a brownfield site too. The developers, Springfield Partnerships, with a history of building 1 300 affordable homes in Scotland, describe these new building as having:

‘A mixture of robust insulation and heating from low carbon air source, once approved, the Whitburn homes will meet silver sustainability standards. All this will result in reduced running costs for the residents.’

While researching this I came across this astonishing alternative:

‘First home in Scotland to be heated with ice!’

Here’s what Stommel-Haus say:

‘The use of an ice store as an energy source is a particularly innovative solution. The ice store consists of a tank with built-in heat exchangers which is buried in the garden and filled with ordinary tap water. Special solar air absorbers are installed on the roof of the house, which draw heat from the ambient air and insolation and supply it to the cylinder. The ice store also draws heat directly from the ground.’

Get it? Me neither but, again, we can do this. Ice, we can supply.

5 thoughts on “SNP Government leads the way again, on high energy efficient homes for Scotland

  1. Redrockg11 March 1, 2017 / 1:31 pm

    It seems to me to be a heat pump installation which uses a ground water tank to store heat extracted from the atmosphere. The heat can be taken back out when required for home heating. The major benefit is that the energy burnt by the pump is smaller as, like a fridge, it is only moving heat around. The COP referred to is the coefficient of performance so the claimed figure of 5 means that for every one kw of electricity paid for you get 5kw of heat output. A cop of 5 is very good and compares very well with an air heat pump.

    It all comes down to installation costs and payback period and do you have a garden big enough for a 10cubic metre tank?


  2. Hugh Wallace March 1, 2017 / 6:15 pm

    It is a bit (!) baffling when described as an ‘ice store’ but it is as RedrockG11 says though it would be less confusing if they described it as a .water store’.

    The heat pump is exactly the same technology as your fridge or freezer which extracts heat from an insulated box (the inside of your fridge/freezer) and moves it outside (you will feel warm air coming from the back of the unit) and can even create ice inside it. In this case, a large tank is filled with water and the heat pump extracts heat from it (maybe creating ice but it is not necessary to do so) which can then be used to heat the inside of a building. Liquid water (and even ice at the sorts of temperatures we encounter) has a lot of latent heat (being warmer than absolute zero) so while it appears counter-intuitive you can actually move heat from ice (at -20C) into an already warm home (at +20C). The description above also indicates that there are things on top of the tank used to absorb heat from the air and sunlight which is then used to warm/melt the water/ice and increase its latent heat helping drive the system.

    Other examples of this technology use the ground itself (either as a deep bore-hole or as a broad expanse such as a lawn) as the heat sink. They often work on the basis of a reversible system that takes heat from the outdoors and puts it indoors in winter and a cooling system which takes heat from indoors and stores it in the ground or a tank of water during the summer to be re-extracted in the winter, etc.

    Fascinating stuff as the electrical input is only to drive a compressor operating on refrigerant gases (and possibly a circulating pump/fan for water or air) rather than using the electricity to create heat directly. This is very efficient (a high COP) but the temperature increases are fairly modest so while a typical central heating boiler may add 50C of heat to radiator water a heat pump may only add 30C so it requires highly insulated houses and things like underfloor heating systems for it to work well. People who have installed such systems in more traditional UK dwellings often find they aren’t warm enough and have to have supplementary heating systems too.

    At least, that’s what I can remember from when I looked into this stuff 15+ years ago so some things may have improved.


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