New partnership project between university and council to pilot low carbon homes potential

A glimpse into the future of low-carbon housing will be provided by a new partnership between the University of Hull and Hull City Council.

Experts in energy and sustainability from the University will work alongside the City Council to develop a project to demonstrate, at full scale, the potential of new technology designed to decarbonise the heating of homes.
Experts in energy and sustainability from the University will work alongside the City Council to develop a project to demonstrate, at full scale, the potential of new technology designed to decarbonise the heating of homes.

Experts in energy and sustainability from the University will work alongside the City Council to develop a project to demonstrate, at full scale, the potential of new technology designed to decarbonise the heating of homes.

As part of the project, Hull City Council will provide a residential property for the University team to trial its low-carbon heating technology. Data on heating and energy use within the house will be monitored and recorded over a year, to fully analyse its effectiveness and affordability.

If the pilot project is successful, it is hoped the technology could be commercialised, and rolled out to homes across Hull and beyond.

Prof. Xudong Zhao, from the University of Hull’s Energy & Environment Institute, is a globally recognised energy researcher whose focus on sustainable building services, renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. 

He said: “This project will be the first time this technology, which we hope will become an exemplar for the decarbonisation of our homes, will be demonstrated at full scale.

“Addressing the issue of decarbonising heating in the home is urgent to meet the UK target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, and Hull City Council’s ambitions to reach those same targets by 2030.

“This new project, working alongside Hull City Council, will provide us with a glimpse into the future of low-carbon, sustainable housing. It has the potential to be truly ground-breaking.”

In the UK, the built environment contributes around 40% of the total carbon footprint. Domestic heating accounts for 26% of the total. 

Heat pumps are seen as a vital approach to decarbonising the UK economy. However, heat pump technologies face additional challenges in the UK climate, including lower performance in winter.

The new project between the University and City Council will demonstrate an innovative combined ventilation and air source heat pump technology in a residential home in Hull.

Developed by the Centre for Sustainable Energy Technology, the system uses a unique mixture of both indoor and outdoor air, and reduces the amount of heat which is lost in a typical house through ventilation.

Prof. Daniel Parsons, Director of the Energy and Environment Institute added: “Early indications are that the technology can significantly reduce carbon emissions, when compared to existing gas boilers. 

“We need to test how to best deploy and operate this new technology, which has the potential to decarbonise our residential housing stock across the country, whilst simultaneously addressing fuel poverty through a reduction in heating costs.”

Councillor Daren Hale, Deputy Leader of Hull City Council, said: “This pilot project puts Hull at for forefront of the UK’s low-carbon heating push. 

“Hull City Council has set the ambitious and achievable target to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. If we are to reach that goal, projects such as this one from the university alongside the council will be vital.

“These systems currently make up a fraction of the overall heating market in the UK, but this partnership between the council and the university could change that, which would be huge for the country’s zero carbon goals. 

“It demonstrates that the council is working hard alongside its major partner organisations to tackle climate change.”

Low carbon heating systems are still in a probation stage, and represent just two per cent of the overall heating market in the UK. 

Most low carbon pathways suggest that heat pumps will play a vital role in decarbonising the economy. According to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) report, an uptake of heat pump systems in UK homes could reach 2.3 million by 2030.

Currently, around 90% of heat pump systems use air as a heat source in the UK. One serious problem of an air source heat pump in winter is frosting during cold, winter months.

The novel low carbon heating system developed by Prof. Zhao and his team will be able to tackle this challenge, making the use of the technology much more robust in a UK setting. 

The new project between the University and Hull City Council will be announced at the 2020 Waterline Summit.

The Waterline Summit 2020, led by Marketing Humber in partnership with the University of Hull and Yorkshire Water, aims to position the region at the forefront of the global transition to a zero-carbon economic model. 

Running online from October 19-23, it will build on the growing momentum across the estuary to embrace pioneering technologies, attract significant investment and create jobs in a green economy.

More details about the Waterline Summit can be found here: https://waterlinesummit2020.vfairs.com/

[Phil Winter – University of Hull]