Heat is on: Kensa pumps up Glasgow's net zero drive

By John Pinching
Kensa: Glasgow's Green Street shows the only way to install 600,000 heat pumps each year and hit net zero is to replace the UK’s gas grid

Green Street in Glasgow – a mere stone’s throw from COP26 – will demonstrate that the only way to install 600,000 heat pumps a year and hit net zero is by replacing the UK’s gas grid.

The inner city street will be brought to life using pioneering augmented reality, showing how networked ground source heat pumps that mimic the current gas network are the cheapest way to decarbonise heat and could save the UK an estimated £1bn a year to 2050.

The solution shifts responsibility from consumers getting rid of their gas boilers and installing individual infrastructure for ground source heat pumps on an ad-hoc house-by-house basis, to the pre-installation of utility-scale underground infrastructure that allows consumers to easily and cheaply change to ground source heat pumps when they’re ready.

The infrastructure is funded, owned and maintained by an energy or water company, local authority or private investor removing the cost from consumers who pay a standing charge similar to gas.

Simon Lomax, CEO of Kensa, the UK’s only manufacturer of ground source heat pumps, said: “It isn’t possible to reach critical mass or secure the cost reductions expected by government by adopting a house-by-house approach, placing responsibility to deliver our climate targets on individuals.

“To really kick-start the transition to heat pumps, the government needs to work with the energy industry and suppliers to popularise a networked ground source heat pump where the cost of infrastructure is divorced from the heat pump in a split-ownership approach."

“Running costs and carbon emissions will be far lower than any other heating choice. Pre-installation of the infrastructure means whole communities such as tower blocks can switch to individual networked heat pumps simultaneously, as well as enabling households to easily and affordably make the transition from their gas boiler to a heat pump when they’re ready to change, with minimal disruption,” he added.

Green light

Kensa’s ‘Welcome to Green Street’ launching on 1 November at COP26 – created by Emmy award winners Alchemy Immersive – will prove how a whole systems approach to decarbonising how we heat our homes can unlock benefits across communities and compliment and balance the electric network as we come to reply more heavily on it with heating and electric vehicles.

Simon added: “Green Street is our way of setting out a virtual street map that proves any street can be a Green Street, by showing how the ground beneath our feet can transform how we heat and power our homes and accelerate progress on climate change through the lowest carbon, cost and electrical grid compact solution.

“By utilising waste heat and low-temperature ambient loop systems our solution connects homes and businesses to deliver sustainable heating and cooling that’s highly efficient, low carbon and low cost for all stakeholders and enables the balance of energy supply and demand.”

Kensa has been engaging with energy suppliers, the UK and Scottish governments and other leading organisations and continues to make progress to making the ‘Green Street’ solution a national reality. Thousands of properties across the UK are already enjoying the benefits of networked heat pumps.

Thenue Housing which has homes in Green Street, said it welcomed innovative and trailblazing solutions to the global climate emergency including those which relate to domestic energy consumption.

Eleanor Derbyshire, Head of Property Services at Thenue Housing, said: “Thenue Housing is delighted that one of the streets where we have our housing stock should be showcased in this way as the way forward in terms of energy consumption and conservation. We recently invested in our on-site heating so while we are currently not planning to make energy-related changes to our homes in Green Street, we think there is no better-named street anywhere in the city to highlight this work.

“As a housing provider which has strong historical links with Glasgow and its heritage, we readily acknowledge the need for action at this game-changing summit where so much can be gained by global co-operation on climate change.”

Since 1999 Cornwall’s Kensa has saved over 1 million tonnes of carbon through ground source heat pump installations across social housing, new build and retrofit homes and businesses.

It was the first company to prove a solution for flats and apartments through its small ‘Shoebox’ heat pump, used by many city councils and recognised by the Greater London Authority as the most efficient, lowest carbon, lowest cost solution for heating and cooling high-rise buildings.

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