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Glasgow's Green Street – Decarbonising via Heat Pumps

12 November 2021 | Updated 15 November 2021

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

The inner-city street will be brought to life using pioneering augmented reality to show 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. An example of an infrastructure-led sustainability approach can be seen in the example set by Dundee council, where they have encouraged a mass shift to electric vehicles in Dundee by way of strategic charging points and depots as well as an individual-enabling grant scheme and further planning in liaison with the community. Policy change and encouraging collective investment is undoubtedly more effective in transforming energy management than expecting people to decarbonise expensively by their own accord, especially if we are to reach the net-zero targets set by the government.


"Green Street is our way of setting out a virtual street map that proves any street can be a Green Street."


– Simon Lomax
CEO of Kensa


Why Ground Source Heat Pumps?


The Ground Source Heat Pump Association states that for each kilowatt of electricity used to run the heat pump, three to four kilowatts of heat can be delivered to the building.  Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP) systems are common in the USA, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland and Germany. The principles of ground source heat pumps were first described by Lord Kelvin in the 1850s and continuous development since they were first used commercially more than 50 years ago has greatly improved their efficiency. Interestingly, a heat pump for a small building is about the size of a large fridge, but more powerful heat pumps for commercial buildings do not increase in size or price as much as they do in power output. 

The UK government has committed to reducing emissions to net-zero by 2050, and over 10 years, the SHDF fund will potentially provide up to £3.8 billion in subsequent funding waves to encourage retrofitting for carbon efficiency, making these installations a sustainable solution.


Leading with Upstream Action


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

“To really kick-start the transition to heat pumps,” he continued, “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.”

Kensa’s ‘Welcome to Green Street’ was launched on 1 November at COP26, created by Emmy award winners Alchemy Immersive, and 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.”


Realising the Concept through Collaboration


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 one 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.


Take a look at our EMEX category to find out more about the Net Zero & Energy Management Expo coming up on 24 - 25 November 2021 at ExCeL, London.


Picture: a Green Street and Kensa sign graphic.

Article written by Bailey Sparkes | Published 12 November 2021


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