The recent announcement that £7.9 billion will be spent on UK schools in the next year presents a great opportunity for schools to make the most of an innovative “green” energy solution, according to an industry expert.
Now is the time for education chiefs to invest in a reliable form of heating and cooling buildings which can reduce annual running costs by up to 70 per cent and carbon emissions by up to 50 per cent.
Ground source heat pumps(GSHP) – while less familiar than biomass boilers, solar power or combined heat and power plants – can produce better efficiencies and have the advantage of being able to cool buildings.
They work by extracting the natural warmth in the ground, boosting its temperature and using it to heat water for space heating and hot water supplies. To cool a building, the process is simply reversed.
Patrick Sheriff, Sales and Marketing Director of Geothermal International, a leading producer of ground source heat systems in the UK, said: “Local education authorities should seize the opportunity to reduce their carbon emissions by installing this highly effective form of heating and cooling buildings.
“Ground source heat pumps may be relatively new in the UK but they use a tried and tested technology which has offered considerable savings in countries like the USA, Canada, Sweden, Germany and Switzerland.
“Our installations in a number of urban areas demonstrates that ground source heat pumps can be ideally suited to highly built-up areas, contrary to some people’s expectations.
“They offer better lifetime carbon savings, compared to biomass boilers or combined heat and power systems, as well as lower maintenance, lower running costs, and no concerns about air quality or fuel supplies.
“Every new school in the UK has the potential to use a ground source heat pump, regardless of its location, and we would urge local authorities to seriously consider them as a method of reaching their sustainable energy targets.
“The massive amount of investment going into new school buildings in the coming year gives local authorities an enviable opportunity to invest in ground source heat pumps – which should produce savings for decades to come.”
The pay-back times for ground source heat pumps have reduced considerably in recent years. With the steep rise in the cost of fuel, payback times are now in the region of between five and seven years.
The Government has admitted that to meet the UK renewable energy target by 2020, a total of 14 per cent of the nation’s heating will have to come from renewable sources.
The billions being poured into schools in the coming years includes a wave of the Government £55 billion Building Schools for the Future programme to modernise every secondary school in the country by 2023, and a wave of investment in city academies.
Geothermal International has pioneered ground source heat pumps in the UK. Most of its work is in the public sector – schools, colleges, universities, council buildings, medical centres, prisons, sports centres, local authority housing developments and even crematoriums.
It has installed a system in Britain’s first carbon-neutral church, The Annunciation Church in Little Walsingham, Norfolk, and its ground source heat pump in Gloucestershire Police HQ led to a reduction of 36 per cent in running costs overall.
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