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A group of schools are set to save £84,000 a year in energy costs, thanks to a £5million decarbonisation project using air-source heat pumps

A multi-academy school trust plans to reduce carbon emissions by more than 9,000 tons through the installation of heat pumps in tandem with solar photovoltaic power at several sites. The £5million project for Abbey Multi-Academy Trust (Abbey MAT) in Yorkshire will see the installation of 38 air-source heat pumps in five schools and is expected to save around £84,000 a year in energy costs .

The project, funded under the government’s Public Sector Decarbonization Program (PSDS), uses photovoltaic solar panels installed on school buildings, which partly power AquaCiat TD300 heat pumps and help to further reduce operating costs. and carbon emissions.

During the summer, when schools are closed, the excess electricity produced will be fed into the grid, helping to cover energy costs for the rest of the year.

Project partners include Energy Management Group consultant Robert Whetham Associates, HVAC specialist BReng Hull and Toshiba distributor Carrier Cool Designs.

David Ryder, IT and Infrastructure Manager at Abbey MAT, said: “In our large secondary schools, heat pumps are deployed in clusters in the form of ‘farms’. The units harvest low-quality ‘free’ energy from the environment and upgrade it to a useful temperature, replacing the need for carbon-intensive gas boilers in the majority of school buildings.

The partners note the importance of optimizing system performance by adjusting flow rates and setpoints to ensure comfortable indoor temperatures for students and staff throughout the day and throughout the year.

To meet tight funding deadlines, Abbey MAT’s grant application required the submission of detailed proposals for each school within a tight deadline of just two weeks. The Trust worked closely with decarbonisation specialist EMG to prepare the application.

One of the main challenges was to assess the needs for upgrading the existing radiators to take into account the lower water temperatures provided by the heat pumps. This required room-by-room investigations from Rob Smelt, Director of BReng Hull, in conjunction with EMG and Cool Designs on the technical aspects of the grant application.

The audit considered the type and size of existing heat emitters, glazing, building structure, room orientation, insulation and occupancy levels. As a result, approximately 50% of the existing radiators were either replaced with larger capacity units or supplemented with new units to achieve the required heating capacity. The additional investment required was covered by the successful PSDS grant.

The fine-tuning of the systems of the already converted schools has begun, with an initial water temperature of 65°C in the early morning reduced to 50°C once the pupils are on site and in the classroom – taking into account that they contribute 3 kW of heat in the average classroom.

The Trust is currently developing an innovative school-wide heat map, produced using temperature data from new heat-sensitive fire alarm systems.

Mr Ryder said: “The idea is to give real-time insight into real-world conditions in every space in a school, so that heat pump set points and flow rates can be further optimized.”

Paul Smith, Sales Manager for Applied Products, Toshiba Carrier UK, said: “By adopting high performance heat pumps – with the added benefit of solar generated electricity to power them – schools have embarked on a major transformation that puts them firmly on the path to becoming carbon neutral. It is a journey that all public and commercial buildings will have to take if the UK is to achieve the country’s strategic goal of being carbon neutral by 2050.

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