Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Review of 2011 Weather + Energy

After the mini-peak in annual heating cost in December 2010, the
curve has been down, down, down ever since.
December 2011: The heating figures above show it, this has been a very mild year, weather-wise. The House consumption for 2011 was 4,662 kWh and for the GHSP was 2,657 kWh.... Both are amazing figures - I thought at one time that 6,000 and 4,000 were as low as consumption could go to! I then 'had a dream' that they could touch 5,000 and 3,000..... but they kept on going! I re-compute these every Sunday, so they are not a surprise. The Sunbox capture was 3,035 kWh which is satisfactory.
   If we have a stiff Winter-Spring, I expect those figures to bounce back a bit - perhaps making 5,000 and 3,000 the new median for future years. We shall see!

The Guardian has two articles reviewing the weather and the environment for the year of 2011. First the article based on a National Trust report describes how confusing it has been for plants and wildlife. The Spring 2011 was an amazingly warm 'bounce-back' after the wintry months of 2010 with the sunniest March and the warmest April on record. After a reasonably warm summer, we have had this recent autumn that had the September-October heatwave (more all time records), the second warmest November in 100 yrs, and in December, the temperature hardly ever went below freezing (in this part of the world). I never once had to get a scraper out for the car windscreen. In our front garden, one of our rose plants has come into flower! Daffodils are already sprouting.

The Environment
The other report, on the wider environmental picture reveals a lot of problems, mostly caused by a British government that promised to be the greenest ever, but seem to have believed that they could have entirely different policies compared to their election promises. 
Quoting from the Guardian article: 2011 was a torrid year for what remains of natural Britain. There was a cold winter, a glorious but very dry spring, an Autumnal heatwave and a late drought, but the government which promised to be the greenest ever, was pilloried for its proposed actions on planning, forests, air quality, climate change, solar energy, sustainable development, biodiversity, nuclear power, badgers, geo-engineering, rivers, shale gas, energy conservation, roads, public transport and a lot more besides. Only a few nuclear industry fans and some optimistic marine conservationists had much to celebrate.
   So they've had fracking proposals for Lancashire, backing out of the Feed in Tariff, increasing support for Nuclear, making it easier for house builders to avoid their energy efficient obligations, attempts to lift regulations that protect the environment from business activities. They've produced things like the Green Deal which are so weak and complex in timetabling that they seem almost custom-designed to avoid people taking up the offer. Carbon emissions from the UK continue to climb, although energy from renewables has been on the increase (something to cheer about... ). Osborne is verging on taking the US view that green action is 'bad for business' (and 'why bother as we are smaller than the Chinese?'). Environmental bodies like Natural England or the Energy Saving Trust has been reduced to the level that any objective observer would regard as closed.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

High Court ruling on PV FIT

27 Dec 2011: It seems that the (British) High Court found that the government were wrongful in pressing ahead with major changes to the Feed in Tariff without considering that the consultation process was not completed, and that the deadlines given have caused untold chaos in the solar installation industry.... and we should not forget some of the inevitable job losses or company closures.
Most people assume that Cameron and Osborne (who seems from his actions and sayings to have little regard for the 'Green' revolution) will just carry on regardless of the Court ruling, or of the effects on the Solar industry and customers. The minister is appealing against the ruling.

Why link to Insulation?
When this was first mooted, it was proposed that the higher tariff should apply to houses which meet an Energy Performance Certificate of level "C". Although this sounds at first sight like a good incentive, it reveals, at closer inspection to be just another form of discouragement, and favouring the well off.
   Energy Generation is a different matter from Energy Conservation, and both are excellent, but there is No Reason for them to be so tightly linked, or for one to exclude the other. Should we also make a law that "Only houses with PV panels should be Insulated"? Of course not. That demonstrates the absurdity of the current proposal that "Only houses with Insulation should have PV panels". There are other ways to incentivise insulation, and these are being done.
  Society needs Energy, so why should we not encourage panels to be fixed on garages, barns and old houses that are not easy to insulate? In the same way, there are many buildings than can and should be insulated, but because of chimneys, dormers, trees or hips, they cannot be adapted for photovoltaic. 
    It can cost more to insulate a house up to level C than to fix solar panels. This becomes a charter favouring the rich or the owner occupier, because it requires an expensive operation on the house first, and perhaps a season's delay. 
   What does it do for social housing (especially of older dwellings)? A quick one or two day installation of panels can reduce future fuel poverty for a whole street, but a programme of insulation of a whole street would mean a complex and expensive process of decanting tenants etc. with funds that the local authorities or housing associations do not have.

Payback thoughts
    It also makes nonsense of the "Payback" argument. It annoys me that people always ask about the Payback of PV when they don't ask the same thing of a change of car, of buying christmas presents, of going on holiday. "Payback" with Insulation is much harder. For me, it is an obvious benefit, in the immediate improvement in comfort levels. In terms of Payback, the reduction of heating bills could take many many years to pay back, and the big unknowns are the future of energy prices and how long you will live there - even more unknown than with PV.
   What about the cost of funding BOTH? If you have to fund BOTH insulation to level C AND a Photovoltaic roof.... then most people in older houses will be alienated from the whole process.

BDPV PV Website

27 Dec 2011: I recently discovered the website  which is a French site, providing a geographical database of PV systems installed all over Europe.  Each user is trusted to supply their own data for each month, and have that compared with others near them, and with the classic PVGIS calculation for that same Lat, Long, Orientation and Roofpitch.

Above is the display for my PV system for the most recent year (2011) with an estimate for the final figure for December 2011 (which is already well ahead of the previous year. The chart shows comparisons with the previous two years.
 It is easy to register with BDPV and there seems no charge for using it. I am surprised at how many are using it already, including quite a lot within a short distance of my home. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

December 2011 Reports

For those just arrived, I do a computation of the ANNUAL performance every Sunday, by subtracting this evening's meter reading from the same one, exactly a year ago.

A Diamond was a girl's best friend here!
26 Dec 2011: Well the last reading of the year has been taken, and we have continued to create all-time records for the energy consumption. But what of the news? 2011 has been a very eventful year, too much for some people - Tsunamis and Earthquakes.... several dictators ended or dead, and one created. This week, it has been 'Goodbye dear leader' Kim Jong Il, and 'Hello! to the great successor' a pudgy faced brat called Kim Jong Un... where will all that lead to? More personality cult I guess. Sorry to hear about Bombs in Damascus, Baghdad and Kabul. The Brazilian economy overtook the British one (do they have 'cuts' too?) not surprisingly, and the government were criticised by the High Court for unjustly changing the Photovoltaic Feed In Tariff. Of course, they will ignore that. [Report] Not really the 'greenest government ever'.... On the good side, a woman finally got justice from the husband who tried to murder her and bury her in a cardboard coffin. Her engagement ring was remarkably effective at cutting her way out [Comment]. And then we had Christmas, so a merry one to all who visit this blog!
  • All time Records Falling: House 4,733 kWh, GSHP 2,734 kWh, GSHP clock 1,255 hrs. (A year ago, annual was: House 6,290 kWh, GSHP 4,216 kWh).  
  • PV 3,371 kWh (Very high! I'm happy if it is above 3,300, it was 3,288 a year ago) 
  • Sunbox energy 3,010kWh (I'm happy as long as it is above 3,000). SB clock 2,444 hrs. 
  • Deep ground temperature is 11.1ºC. A year ago it was 10.0ºC. 2 yrs ago it was 7.5ºC. 
The House meter and the GSHP meter
follow each other with a gap of 2,000 kWh
The higher than expected deep ground temperature is partially explained by us being away for christmas for two days, and for those day, there was some sunshine, but the heating was only on for 3 hours per day. So the ground recovered surprisingly well after its Low of last weekend. I measured it a couple of evenings later, and measured it at midnight after a cold rainy day, and it was 10.7ºC, more realistic.
   There is something uncanny with how the House and GSHP meter readings remain so close to 2,000 different, they are now only ONE kWh away from that exact gap. It must show how consistent our other energy demands are, for power, lighting and cooking. See the graph>

The much used photo of the Hadron Collider
18 Dec 2011: Well, I sometimes think my set-up here is a bit complicated, but compared with CERN's Hadron Collider, in which they believe they may have identified a Higgs Boson, it is very very small, simple and a lot cheaper! Europe seems to rumble on week after week. The writer, polemicist and prominent atheist Christopher Hitchens dies in Houston, and Vaclav Havel, first president of free Czechoslovakia also dies. Quite a lot of people die in Liege thanks to a madman with a gun, and we hope there will be less dying in Iraq now that the US forces pull out entirely after 8.5 years of occupation. Climate change wise, the Philippines are suffering the latest of a series of major tropical storms, this latest one being the most destructive. Meanwhile, I am doing my tiny bit to reduce CO2 emissions from this building, and delay climate change by a three billionth (of the number of buildings on the planet). Yet again, we are breaking all-time records (because December 2010 was so severe).
  • All time Records Falling: House 4,814 kWh, GSHP 2,819 kWh, GSHP clock 1,303 hrs. (A year ago, annual was: House 6,302 kWh, GSHP 4,245 kWh).  
  • PV 3,375 kWh (I'm happy if it is above 3,300, it was precisely 3,296 a year ago) 
  • SB clock 2,448 hrs. Sunbox energy 3,020kWh (I'm happy as long as it is above 3,000). 
  • Deep ground temperature is 10.0ºC. A year ago it was 10.3ºC. 2 yrs ago it was 7.1ºC. 

Diagram of Kepler 22b released to
news agencies by NASA
11 Dec 2011: The news seems to be dominated by Europe and for the UK, Cameron's veto.... further afield, the Durban Climate Change COP17 conference seemed to end in some form of success and agreement, thanks to the efforts of the Danish EU delegate who kept everybody working through the night. It was a bad week for Shias in Kabul (grim event), and for Ferrari owners in Japan (ha-ha). If you don't like it here, there's Kepler 22b, a planet just like ours, with similar atmosphere and temperatures - providing you can find transport to get 600 light years from here. I wonder if they have a socio-economic culture with energy requirements and solar panels, like ours, and even a little guy in a house who records his weekly meter readings like these.
  • All time Records Falling: House 4,846 kWh, GSHP 2,849 kWh, GSHP clock 1,322 hrs. (A year ago, annual was: House 6,302 kWh, GSHP 4,235 kWh).  
  • PV 3,368 kWh (I'm happy if it is above 3,300, it was precisely 3,300 a year ago) 
  • SB clock 2,439 hrs. Sunbox 3,005 kWh (I'm happy as long as it is above 3,000). 
  • Deep ground temperature is 11.0ºC. A year ago it was 10.4ºC. 2 yrs ago it was 7.2ºC. 
I hope the 'all-time record' process continues to the next few sundays of December. That has become something of a target. It is somewhat astonishing how closely the House and GSHP follow each other with a 2,000 kWh difference. We have only had two days this winter where the GSHP edged above 20kWh, and none where the house went above 30kWh.
  I modified the Sunbox thermostat so that it needs a delta-T of 7.0 degs to operate, or an absolute temperature of 17ºC, meaning that it will come on for fewer hours, but be more heat-delivering when it does come on (i.e. higher kilowatts). I suspect the Supercal energy meter has difficulty detecting very small temperature differences between flow and return, so a larger one makes it run more accurately.

Ken Russell 1927-2011
4 Dec 2011: OK, so this week Ken Russell died, Osborne made a speech on Tuesday confirming that the government has turned against the green agenda big-time. The public sector unions had a strike on Wednesday. Jeremy Clarkson made his sick joke about shooting all the strikers. The Leveson Enquiry and the Euro crisis continue. What's going to happen in Durban with the climate change conference? Not much it seems. Herman Cain decided not to be a Reptilian candidate, and returned to the girls in his Pizza parlour. The British Embassy in Tehran is sacked, the Iranian embassy in London is closed. So with the death of Brazilian footballer, Socrates, I have to turn back to the infinitely more humble matter of the Peveril house meters..... The autumnal weather continues another week and so the House and GSHP break records yet again. I can sense that colder weather is coming, and when that happens, I expect the figures to level off or bounce up a bit in the next few weeks. With the colder weather, there is also a drop in the ground temperature, bringing it to the same as for last year :(
  • All time Records Falling: House 4,892 kWh, GSHP 2,900 kWh, GSHP clock 1,344 hrs. (A year ago, annual was: House 6,247 kWh, GSHP 4,185 kWh).  
  • PV 3,373 kWh (I'm happy if it is above 3,300, it was 3,296 a year ago) 
  • SB clock 2,427 hrs. Sunbox 3,045 kWh (I'm happy as long as it is above 3,000). 
  • Deep ground temperature is 10.8ºC. A year ago it was 10.8ºC. 2 yrs ago it was 7.5ºC. Groan...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Active House case study

23 Dec 2011: I have added the Peveril Solar house to the Active House website as a case study. I would welcome more people linking to here from there, sharing in the knowledge. Although I am teaching the principles of the Passivhaus at the Uni, I feel sure that the Active House definition is more practical as a more workable solution for the majority of houses, especially for retrofit of ones already built.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Solstice thoughts

22 Dec 2011: This year the Solstice falls on the 22nd Dec, and we've been rewarded with a lovely SUNNY warm day. The solar panels are doing well, both PV and thermal.
   The shadows are the longest they will be all year, and from now, the days will gradually get longer and the shadows shorter. The weather may get colder in Jan and Feb, but the PV figures will improve, as long as it doesn't snow. The difference in day length at this time of year is but a few seconds, because the solar altitude follows a SIN curve, and the Solstice is the flattest part of the curve. In 2010, the Solstice day was a grumbly cloudy affair, but in 2009 and this year, we are given a special dose of Sunshine!
   2011 has been a better year for sunshine. December 2011 has already gained more PV power than all of December 2010. Our computed 'annual' figure consistently exceeds 3,300 kWh.
Oct 2010  173 kWh    Oct 2011 207 kWh

Nov 2010 96.6 kWh    Nov 2011  79 kWh
Dec 2010 49.5 kWh    Dec 2011 ? kWh
December 2011 has made 52.7 kWh so far and there are nine days to go, and some of the long range forecast includes sunny days.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Greenest Campus in the World!

22 Dec 2011: Greenest Campus
I'm happy to report that my workplace, the University of Nottingham is ranked Greenest University in the world - on a wide range of indices. In 2010, it was ranked 2nd, behind Berkeley. This year, it is top of the league!
   Oddly, this ranking began as a research project at the University of Indonesia, but it is world wide now and quite highly respected. The ranking is based on geographic data, number of courses and amount of research into sustainability, energy efficiency of buildings, waste, water and transport management, and suchlike.
See the page on Criteria for detail.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Metering comment

18 Dec 2011: With just two weeks to the start of the Olympic year of 2012, the house and GSHP meters have been breaking records almost every week of the year. The figures remain remarkably close, with only about 5kWh variation on a 2,000 kWh difference. A year ago the two figures were over 6,000 and 4,000 respectively, then recently they were down to 5,000 and 3,000 respectively, and this week they are down to 4,800 and 2,800 respectively. If current weekly consumption continues, the figures will continue moving towards 4,700 and 2,700 respectively. Next spring, we should see a levelling out or an upward bounce if the weather gets colder.
The PV meter. This has just passed the 7,000kWh mark
just 27.5 months after installing
   So far, it hasn't been cold enough to need more heat in the evenings than a little top up heat with the pilot light on the gas fire in the evenings (to keep Mrs N-C happy.)

Mind the Gap!
This gap of 2,000 kWh does not mean that we use precisely 2,000 kWh for cooking, lighting power.  The GSHP meter is an absolute measured amount going to the GSHP, whereas the House meter has days of stasis due to the PV roof in the summer, sending reverse current through the meter. The amount that we are using is perhaps 60% of the PV generated, so as we generate 3,300 kWh, 1,320 is exported and 1,980 is used, so our House meter annual total would be perhaps 5,000 + 1,980 = 6,980 kWh. That still compares well with the regular amount of 8,500kWh/annum that we were using in 2007 and 2008.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Gas versus HP

18 Dec 2011: Cooking with Gas
 I really feel that this solar augmentation is a beneficial technology, but for me the problem in the UK is that most of the efforts are directed towards the use of more efficient condensing gas boilers - prolonging the burning of fossil fuel for another 20-25 years. People won't take out boilers that they have only just fitted!
  With Retrofit, people are put off heat pumps by the added cost of modifying radiators or installing floor heating. With the tendency to fill in urban brown field sites, and to restrict scattered development in rural areas, it is extremely unusual for new houses to be off the Gas grid. There is an almost religious faith in the warmth, reliability and cheapness of gas heating, and the ease of cooking with gas (they haven't tried the wonderful controllability of the electric induction hob).
     Only when gas begins to suffer cuts or intermittencies, Ukrainian-style, will people think otherwise. Vladimir Putin, I am waiting for you!

Choosing a heat pump
   Even with a new build and the decision to use a Heat Pump, people are put off by the cost of laying a ground loop or borehole, the GSHP and the underfloor heating. They tend to finish with Air Source heat pumps. It may be a decade or even two before enough people have the circumstances to appreciate the combination of solar charging with ground source heat - longer than I expect to be here.
   I don't know anybody with an ASHP well enough to expect them to monitor it and record daily meter readings and temperatures - so I cannot compare directly. However, at this time of year, with no warmth in the air, I feel glad that we have a GSHP working from a warm mass of earth below the house.
   So, Please, Please, if you read this, promote the principle of Solar Earth Charging, and get in touch with me if you have a real building situation where a GSHP might be included.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

October 2011 Powerpoint

5 Dec 2011: I recently discovered the website - wonderful place to deposit PDF documents, and they are organised rather like one does on an iPad - easy! It is possible to provide viewers with a link, or provide html code that can be embedded, as below. I tried uploading my October 2011 lecture about the Peveril Surya Sunbox system.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

PV, going into the winter

3 Dec 2011: The Sunpath is moving to its winter pattern, which is to be behind Sharp Hill, and for the Sun to rise a whole hour later than it does down in the plains... and to set earlier behind Wilford Hill. The change is seen in the last two winters that we have had, with a massive drop in November (being less than half of October's harvest). There's a miserably dour Dec, Jan and Feb, followed by a colossal rise in March, after which the Sunrise comes from further in the east where it is not behind the hill.
We have to be philosophical about this. We can't move Sharp Hill out of the way, and we can't move or rotate the house. I am just happy that we get what we get. My friend just down the hill a bit from here, with a purely south facing roof has managed more than 3,800 kWh in the last year, whereas I am glad if I can get 3,330 kWh in a year. The chart above shows that the summer of 2011 has been better than that of 2010. It means that the target we have to set for the GSHP is 3,330, not as much as my friend's house.
  This doesn't affect the Sunboxes much, as they take longer to warm up after sunrise and don't really get going in the winter unless the GSHP is demanding heat by driving cold glycol at them. I have increased the Trigger-Delts-T to 6.0 degrees to make sure that it only works if there is a distinct advantage. This reduces the hours of working, but increases the efficiency when it does work.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Active House versus Passivhaus

1 Dec 2011: Following a lecture by Architect Julian Marsh, I recently registered with the website - this seems to be one place for pooling knowledge on the concept of the 'Active House' . Read this page on the 'Vision' to get the full definition.
Julian's house is in the Meadows, Nottingham, and is termed by him an Active House - there are abundant ecodesign ideas in the house, and it is better than Carbon Zero, but he has not straitjacketed himself with the rigid rules of the Passivhaus Institute. It has variations in shape and materials, uses hemp insulation, parallam frame, composting toilets, PV panels, polycarbonate sunspace, micro farming of fruit and vegetables, rain and grey water collection and many such ideas that are not in Passivhaus. A Passivhaus can be lived in by occupants who ignore the rules, leave windows open, take too many baths etc. Active House implies not only that the house is actively using technology to close the gap, but the occupants are living the lifestyle too, making sure that it operates efficiently.
   The Active House website has a number of case studies and invites more to join in.... so this is a target for the future. I need to read some of the existing ones to get used to the format and level of detail. Although this site seems to have been started by people who worked for VELUX windows and roof lights (whenever a Velux is mentioned, it is quoted in upper case), but there are a number of case studies not using Velux. Anyway, I have three Veluxes in this house, and had three in my last house, and had some in the house before that. Every house I have ever designed has used them. I am now wondering if they are available in triple glazed form.

Thoughts on Retrofit
The Active house idea gives hope to retrofitters, and for those who fit renewable energy technology. The classic Passivhaus is a new build to very strict standards. The Passivhausers I know are a cliquey group and have a contempt for renewable energy technology, despite the paradox of their total attachment to MVHR systems. They try to make people who fit PV feel guilty, as if we are trying to find a quick fix short cut to being more eco-friendly. (They are correct about people who do it only for the Tariff).
   Retrofit of an existing house to Passivhaus standard can be very expensive near to impossible due to architectural limitations of the existing building. So I am open to the idea that a bit of technology can be used to compensate - if you can't reduce your heating by 3,000 kWh, you can at least generate more than that amount and feed it to the grid. For the 98% who live in existing houses, there are technologies we can add to make them work better.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Other constructions: Gate and Cloche

above is the work in progress on the Cloche, with my helper, Henry NC.
27 Nov 2011: Other things I have been doing:- the old Sunbox provided me with quite a lot of spare 6mm structural polycarbonate, so I have been finding ways to use it. First, in September and October, I did some work to make a Gate for the side alley, using minimal amounts of recycled aluminium. I decided to make it a fixed gate, with butterfly nuts and bolts if I need to open it on rare occasions. Then this weekend, I worked on a Cloche for the vegetable patch, which is causing the minimal possible waste of polycarbonate combined with a reasonable height of 450mm.

Side gate, and you can see down the alleyway
where the proposed extension will be.

November Reports

For those just arrived, I do a computation of the ANNUAL performance every Sunday, by subtracting this evening's meter reading from the same one, exactly a year ago.

End of the Month: Well this has been a remarkably warm month, with fewer heat pump hours than in March (spring Equinox).  The effect of Sharphill is now reducing solar PV capture significantly. Sunboxes were slightly higher in 2010, probably due to more sun-hours, and greater demand from GSHP)

  • House meter 534kWh, GSHP meter 270kWh, GSHP hours 123hrs
  • (2010 - 705, 477 and 233 respectively)
  • Solar PV 79kWh (2010 - 96kWh)
  • Sunbox meter 167kWh (2010 - 194kWh)
27 Nov 2011: Well, it's the week in which Mark Webber won the Brazilian Grand prix (end of the season), Gary Speed (manager of Wales) unfortunately died at 42, the Leveson enquiry went further with revelations of the hacking crimes of the British tabloids (and revealed that Hugh Grant's middle name is Mungo), the amphibian Newt Gingrich begins to draw ahead of the ragbag candidates of the Reptilian party, Egypt and Syria are in ferment, the Mars rover 'Curiosity' blasted off on its 9 month journey, and nothing much seems to be likely to come from the Durban Climate Change conference; meanwhile, I have to tell you about my metering exploits. Well, as usual, we are breaking records yet again, and in the same week, two of the key performance indicators have gone below even what I could have expected!
  • All time Records Falling: House 4,967 kWh, GSHP 2,972 kWh, GSHP clock 1,381 hrs. These have now fallen below 5,000 and 3,000, and of course, most of this is down to the continuing mild autumn. I accept that if the weather turns, these figures have to turn to, but I hope they never return to 6,000 and 4,000 respectively. (A year ago, annual was: House 6,213 kWh, GSHP 4,162 kWh). 
  • PV 3,364 kWh (I'm happy if it is above 3,300) SB clock 2,423 hrs
  • Sunbox 3,030 kWh (I'm happy as long as it is above 3,000).
  • Deep ground temperature was 11.9º. A year ago it was 10.8ºC. 2 yrs ago it was 8.2ºC. 
20 Nov 2011: So, in the country that Herman Cain can't identify, Libya, Saif Gadaffi has been found, and in Spain the government has changed. I and most of the population have lost track of what is happening to the Euro, so I'd better change to the matter of Metering. We are in the second half of November, and yet the heat pump hasn't used as much as 12kWh in a day since last March! Note, that if we left it on 24 hrs, it would be much higher, but we have a strict timeclock regime to ensure that it only heats when we need it.
  • All time Records Falling: House 5,040 kWh, GSHP 3,053 kWh, GSHP clock 1,430 hrs.
  • (A year ago, annual was: House 6,164 kWh, GSHP 4,104 kWh). It will take a week of v. severe weather for these not to fall to below 5,000 and 3,000 by next Sunday.
  • PV 3,367 kWh (I'm happy if it is above 3,300) SB clock 2,427 hrs
  • Sunbox 3,032 kWh (I'm happy as long as it is above 3,000). Low because GSHP activity is so low, with this mild weather, and only one sunny day in the last week.
  • Deep ground temperature was 11.7ºC. A year ago it was 11.3ºC. 2 yrs ago it was 8.1ºC. This shows that we are well into the heating season. I wonder when the graph will bottom out.
If I might hark back to the the news, the more serious one long term is the failure of the rich countries to do anything about Climate Change (in advance of talks next week in Durban) and to postpone most major decisions to 2020. See the Guardian Environment report of 20 Nov.... showing how important it is for us to do our best to combat energy shortage and reduce carbon emissions (but showing at the same time, how futile it is to do it one house at a time, one country at a time.)
   Looking at the chart below, one can see the winter starting up again and the GSHP tracking the degree days. They will never entirely meet as they are different units. But is it good to see the curves getting closer to each other.
Degree Days (weekly) against GSHP workload (including DHW+floor pump)
13 Nov 2011: So Silvio Berlusconi has finally retired, we've had Remembrance day, and the most palindromic day for 100 yrs (11:11:11:11:11:11), England beat Spain 1-0 in a football friendly, James Murdoch admits that he doesn't know what's going on in his own company... and need we mention the parasites, faux actors, neo-nazis, zombies who think they can be the Republican candidate for the US? No, because it is time for metering news. Another mild week, but mostly very cloudy. Not good for PV nor for Sunbox capture, and the mild temperatures stop the GSHP from being busy.... so another weekend of all-time records.
  • All time Records Falling: House 5,102 kWh, GSHP 3,106 kWh, GSHP clock 1,452 hrs.
  • (A year ago, annual was: House 6,115 kWh, GSHP 4,061 kWh)
  • PV 3,368 kWh (I'm happy if it is above 3,300) SB clock 2,427 hrs
  • Sunbox 3,027 kWh (best ever was 3,094). Low because GSHP activity is so low, with this mild weather.
  • Deep ground temperature is 12.0ºC A year ago it was 11.4ºC. 2 yrs ago it was 8.1ºC.
The higher ground temperature is probably because by this time, the 2010 winter was beginning to 'bite'. However, the autumn-winter of 2009 was similar to the current period, so 12.0 is good compared to 8.1.
6 November 2011: So the G20 leaders spend time in Cannes, Sir Alex Ferguson completes his 25th year at Manchester and some unfortunates on the M5 see a firework display and are caught up in a flamy pile-up. Meanwhile, I have to tell you about my meter readings.
Yet again, the weather continues to be mild after the mildest October on record, and the systems continue to yield some record readings.
  • All time Records Falling: House 5,123 kWh, GSHP 3,156 kWh, GSHP clock 1,475 hrs.
  • (A year ago, annual was: House 6,096 kWh, GSHP 4,046 kWh)
  • PV 3,384 kWh (Another record) SB clock 2,444 hrs. (highest ever)
  • Sunbox 3,065 kWh (best ever was 3,094). Low because GSHP activity is so low.
  • Deep ground temperature is 12.2ºC. A year ago it was 11.7ºC. 2 yrs ago it was 9.2ºC.
Water note: I have recently added more columns to my spreadsheet and can see a cumulative calculation of the annual Water Consumption. Cold water annual seemed to hover about 61 cum/yr in 2010, but in 2011 it is hovering around a figure of 55 cum/yr. The Hot annual seemed to hover about 21-22 cum/yr in 2010, but in 2011 it is hovering around a figure of 18-19 cum/yr. The only reason I can think of is that Henry (our son) used to stay a couple of nights every 2 weeks in 2009-2010, but moved his job to Wareham in Dorset and is not staying regularly. 
Gas note:, we are still using the Pilot light in the evenings (not the fire) and this is using about 2.0 cum/week. I am recording the consumption and will feel duty bound to include this in future heating computations, small as it is.
Weather note: During sunday evening, I have been watching a TV programme about weather, and there seem to be people predicting a tough cold snap coming up - maybe it will come in the New Year. I know that this continuing pattern of all time records being broken every week has to end soon, but I am wondering where this will bottom out. If the weather continues mild into December, the consumption figures will continue to fall.
    My dream scenario would be for the house meter to fall to 4,999 kWh annually and the GS heat pump to 2,999 kWh annually, but surely, both of these are surely an impossibility? If the mild weather continues for a couple of weeks, this might be achieved because the same weeks last year suddenly turned very cold!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Progress on Extension

20 Nov 2011: I've been making further progress on the idea of an extension. Here's a slightly updated picture of the proposal with 2 PVT panels on the roof.
    I had a meeting with Mike, an Architect-Builder friend who was one of my tutees years ago, who I would trust to build it. We discussed the idea of building the SIPS panel ourselves, as a summer vacation project.
   I've also written to AnafSolar, volunteering to instal two of their panels on the roof - as an additional solar heat supplier to my ground loop. It would need its own energy flow meter, pump and thermostat.
  I've been skyping with a friend who works for Rationel, a high performance Danish window company with a base in Bicester, Oxon. The South and East window will be triple glazed, argon filled, of course. The SIPS walls will have a U Value of 0.15. The window will add to the heating gain, because it will be clear and intended to admit more heat than it loses (and there is a solar shading device for summer).

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

EPC for Peveril Solar House

15th Nov 2011: Ive had an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for the house. We had a visit from Steve and Ed of last Friday. They said it was a very high assessment, but it still comes out at 91 which is a high B+ rating. It is a bit disappointing but I know why.
    I know that we start out with a disadvantage, being Brick/block with double glazing, and being detached. The existence of a Gas fire (that we have only for the pilot light and for emergencies) knocks 5 points off the rating straight away. I didn't expect the software to understand the process of storing heat throughout the summer in an earth store. The guys are very sympathetic, but this is the way the EPC software rolls it out.

The actual metered performance of the house does not get included by the software, there is a box ticking exercise that then assumes the contribution that each component makes.
     So, having a GSHP is a credit, but quite how efficiently it performs is not included. Having the PV on a 40deg pitch, not a 30deg pitch is a negative. Not having a Wind Turbine is a negative, as is not having a conventionally installed solar thermal panel and tank. We couldn't have either of these. Rushcliffe BC don't give planning permission for WTs unless they are below the roof-line, and a solar thermal tank would be a major legionella risk for my dear wife - and thermally it would be redundant as we are sending enough heat already into the main thermal store.
    As a result the software assumes that we use 45 kWh/sqm/yr for heating and hot water, whereas the real figure as metered is 26.6 kWh/sqm/yr, and the heating alone takes less than 20 of those.
    I'll have to accept this philosophically - his mention of 'Time and Zone control', refers to systems in which programmers can manage each room separately - for which there seems to be no need in a very small box-like house with good insulation values, and no swimming pools, libraries or granny flats.

Ed writes: "The specifics of the property do fair much better than what is assumed in an Energy Performance Certificate.  However, I am still impressed that without the use of the gas fire, the house manages a score of 96 which is absolutely superb!
     "I’ll just provide you with a few scenarios with the current setup and the impact they would have on the EPC.  The practical impact would be different however…  This is based from a starting point of 91 points.
  • Add wind turbine – 94
  • Time and temperature zone control – 92
  • Without gas fire – 96
  • With conventional solar water heating – 93"

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Small maintenance jobs

13 Nov 2011: The weather gauge is working well, but at this time of year, there is nowhere for the temperature sensor to hide from the sun on sunny winter days - giving false readings. So I have built an aluminium sun shield that will protect it from direct view - it's the first time up the ladder since June or July 2011, and I quite enjoyed it! The construction all looks sound, and although the fronts are designed to hinge openwards (this is what took more of the time than the main construction) I have no reason yet to open the fronts for maintenance.

Airtight construction?:  I also examined the side panels of the Sunbox and decided that after all the work I did to make it airtight (around the leading edges) and well insulated, I should consider leakage at the sides where the box meets the wall. There are, in fact, many small places at the side where the bucket handle joints in the brickwork are letting cold air in. Cumulatively, that adds up to a lot of unwanted heat loss. So I bought some clear external quality sealant, and this has been fixed up during the weekend. There is still some ventilation along the bottom surface, but this is manageable.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Idea for an Extension

10 Nov 2011: We have been thinking for a while of a southward extension to the Dining Room. This seems odd as there is almost no space, but even a metre would improve the spatial quality of that room. We have in fact 1.1m of side alley, and I don't want to uproot the existing retaining wall. So, one idea would be to build it over the alley, and cantilever part of it over the sloping flowerbed.

Here is a first view of the idea. This could be constructed using SIPS construction, and would almost be cantilevered from the house - I am thinking of merely some props under the corners, either rubber blocks, or even a couple of car springs. The path would be lowered slightly to go under the extension.
There is a chance to fit some liquid cooled PV panels, probably from Anafsolar. The extra thermal surface area would be plumbed in to supplement the ground loop, and the PV surface would provide additional electrical power. The thermal loop would have its own enter flow meter and pump and thermostat. The PV would be working to a large battery, and powering certain devices in the house.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Another solar charged house!

Illustration from Geotherm website
8th Nov 2011: I was forwarded this link by someone who works for Geotherm (Italy), and it's a paper by David Maritan about the efficacy of solar charging. Geotherm as a company is a reseller of IVT, the same heat pumps as in the Peveril Solar house.
   He is a big fan of the 'Compact Collector' a grille of pipes that is hung in a trench as deep as you can plant it, and is a substitute for a borehole - although it still needs more space than our garden would allow (it is also an IVT product). It addresses a smaller volume of soil than a borehole, so he strongly recommends solar charging.
Link to D.Maritan's paper
  This illustration off his website shows an example, although it doesn't show a solar panel. His paper was written in 2008 and reports on data collected since 2004. The addition of the solar panels (and array of evacuated tubes) had a significant effect in smoothing out the deep ground temperature over the seasons. It was on a building in Soave, NW Italy, of 160sqm, larger than the Peveril Solar house - and with a larger roof surface area.
  If you look at Geotherm's web page on GSHP with different collector types, you should use Chrome as that will translate it into English. There's nothing I can find on his website about the Solar charging experiment, but I have emailed David Maritan to ask for more details of the house or building, and to find out if the project is continuing.

We would have had a compact collector if it wasn't for the tiny size of our garden and the closeness of the collector to the foundations. We consider ourselves lucky to have had a borehole because it still buries the heat efficiently, and avoids ground swell. Solar charging wasn't in our thoughts when the house was built in 2006-7.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Want PV? Soon you will need an EPC!

5 Nov 2011: After April 12th 2012, it's likely that PV-hunting householders will have to get an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for their house to be eligible for the 21pence Feed in Tariff. The EPC should be grade 'C' or better. Without this, you may only be eligible for 9 pence/unit.
   This is going to need clarifying, because it seems to be bad news for people in historic buildings who are unable to bring the buildings up to grade C, or those who have to erect panels in the orchard, garage or uninsulated outbuildings because the house is historic, listed or is encrusted with chimneys and dormers. You need EPCs in order to sell a house, so there is now a small industry of EPC assessors. Google "EPC" and you will find loads, including some companies based in West Bridgford/ Rushcliffe. If your house does not yet meet grade C, then you will get advice from the assessor on how far it can be taken.

How do you get an EPC?
• EPCs are explained further on the DECC website,
• It costs between £30 and £70 to get an EPC evaluation, there are many companies offering to do one. See this page:
• Here's an example of a EPC for a house in 'AnyTown'

Does the Peveril Solar house have one? No, not yet, it wasn't required when we built it, but perhaps we should do so, if its only £30-£40 to get one. Although the PV makes the house Carbon Zero, the requirement is for the house itself without the PV. Our insulation is very good and the annual heating requirement is low, being about 100 kWh/Sqm/annum base requirement, but because we use an efficient heat pump, it is only requiring only 26 kWh/Sqm/annum to space-heat and provide hot water. On heating alone, it is only requires 20 kWh/Sqm/annum, which is better than the Passivhaus requirement for existing houses. So it should be A rated, but I will get it rated independently anyway.
    I've made a phone call to arrange to have one done in the next couple of weeks. The assessor says that PV is taken into account, and their rating includes recommendations for the 'potential' grading providing the basic house underneath gets improvements in insulation.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

October Reports

Ground Temps up till end of october 2011.  Temp is falling
as the heating season, but it staying consistently a fraction of a
degree higher than last year and about 2 digs higher than the year before..
30 Oct 2011: So Europe has saved the Euro, Sir Jimmy Saville died and the Occupy tents are still occupying the space in front of St Paul's Cathedral. Meanwhile, I have to report the weekly meter readings. Yet again, the key parameters are all-time records, mainly because of the continuing mild weather.
  • All time Records Falling: House 5,132 kWh, GSHP 3,167 kWh, GSHP hours 1,484.
  • PV 3,379 SB clock 2,435 hrs. (close to highest ever)
  • Sunbox 3,056 kWh (best ever was 3,094). Low because GSHP activity is so low.
  • Deep ground temperature 12.5º. A year ago it was 11.8ºC.
I shall have to start keeping more serious Gas records in the light of our decision to run the pilot light, and I am surprised how much power this has used. It seems to be about 0.5 cubic metres/day, and that's going to be about 5.5 kWh/day in winter. It does help hugely to lift the temperature in a room that is normally heated by underfloor heating through a carpet (i.e. not heated much).
   There is the question of whether the new Surya-3 Sunbox performs better than the old ones is still there. I need longer to test that. When it was just sunny Summer weather, I think the new ones did better by about 7.5%. At the moment, while we are in transition to Winter working, the GSHP hasn't been half as busy as a year ago. Winter performance will be the next big test!
This is one tiny snapshot from my metering spreadsheet, showing the Weekly
summaries fromMay 2011 to the end of October. Colour highlights are used
to indicate records or days of importance.

23 Oct 2011: Well I would like to be telling you about the death of Gadaffi, the earthquake in Turkey or the subjugation of Manchester United 6-1 by their City rivals, but instead, I have to tell you about the all-time records of my Sunbox system. Again, Every parameter save one is an all-time record.
  • All time Records Falling: House 5,153 kWh, GSHP 3,187 kWh, GSHP hours 1,493.
  • All time Records Rising: PV 3,384, SB clock 2,436 hrs.
  • Close to it: Sunbox 3,074 kWh (best ever was 3,094)
  • Deep ground temperature is 12.2ºC. A year ago it was 11.9ºC.
It's important for the research that these figure are achieved without the help of any alternative heating systems. We are not using Gas for heating, or a Wood burning stove. The heat pump is the ONLY method of heating. We thinking of getting the gas fire renovated (it hasn't been used properly since 2009, and was used for only one hour in 2010, and now it doesn't come on.)
  Part of the explanation for these excellent figures lie in the PV figure - the PV capture is at an all time high, and that is abnormal, since we have no control - logically if the PV is at its highest, the amount of sunshine is partially responsible for reducing the amount of heating required. But I am expecting an elastic bounce back in the figures if we have a stiff Winter. We must have had a horrible October last year for the figures to be so good this year. If we have a mild autumn until Christmas, will the House go below 5,000 kWh and the GSHP below 3,000 kWh? That's the new target!

16 Oct 2011: I would prefer to be telling you of records elsewhere, like Wales getting to the Final of the Rugby World Cup (they didn't), or Sebastian Vettel with a record number of Grand Prix wins (fun, but an awful waste of fossil fuel)..... but life at home has to continue on.
   Yet again, every parameter except one is a best-ever record, and the one that is not (Sunbox thermal capture) is nearly so. It must be that October 2010 was a lot colder (yes, it was), helping all these figures. If the present winter continues to be mild, I can only speculate where it will end - could the house consumption go below 5,000, and the GSHP below 3,000? I doubt it very much. They have to bottom out sometime and level off. The PV is the more surprising one, because that is not affected by changes  in our lifestyle or technology adaptations. Shows that we have been having a good summer.
  • All time Records, Falling: House 5,177 kWh, GSHP 3,210 kWh, GSHP hours 1,501.
  • All time Records, Rising: PV 3,380, SB clock 2,432 hrs.
  • Close to it: Sunbox 3,077 kWh (best ever was 3,094)
  • Deep ground temperature is 12.6ºC. A year ago it was 12.0º.
One year ago, the Annual figure for the House was 6,092 kWh, and for the GSHP was 4,011 kWh. Somehow, in a year, we have managed to reduce these figures substantially. At the worst part of last winter, the GSHP annual figure rose to 4,245 kWh... terribly disappointing considering all the work I had done on the first Sunboxes.
At the moment, we have a carbon credit balance in that the Power generation of the PV exceeds the Power consumption of the GSHP by 170 kWh! This will not last, but it's nice while it does.
The Weather forecast for next week is COLD! So I am expecting the line of best-ever records to stop.

9 Oct 2011: Oh dear, you will think I am making this up, but this is more real than Theresa May's cat! Again, almost all parameters are all time records! This Thermal YoYo has to bounce back sometime, if we get a very cold spell coming up, especially if we have a very cold Spring 2012. For the moment, I am enjoying seeing the figures improve week by week. The prospects for the coming week are cloudy, but not cold, with a sunny end to the week - so the figures are likely to be better in a week's time.
  • All time Records, Falling: House 5,202 kWh, GSHP 3,238 kWh, GSHP hours 1,514.
  • All time Records, Rising: PV 3,368, SB clock 2,432 hrs,.
  • Close to it: Sunbox 3,088 kWh (best ever was 3,094)
  • Deep ground temperature is 13.1ºC. A year ago it was 12.5º.

2 October 2011: The first October weekend coincides with an autumn heatwave which is unprecedented, the hottest October day in Weather history, and September starting with our holiday and ending with 3 perfect photovoltaic bell-curves in a row! Not surprisingly, EVERYTHING is a best ever record for annual figures - highest or lowest ever!
Last three days of September
  • House meter 5,216 kWh (I never thought it could go below 5,300 but it has!)
  • GSHP meter 3,254 kWh (I never thought it could go below 3,300 but it has!)
  • (A year ago, annual was: House 6,088 kWh, GSHP 4,020 kWh)
  • GSHP annual working hours of 1,519 hrs, the lowest ever
  • PV power generating 3,354 kWh (I expected only 2,800 when it was installed, and it's 100 kWh more than the GSHP consumption)
  • Sunbox working hours 2,425 hrs, highest ever
  • Sunbox thermal storage is 3,094 kWh, the highest ever, and 123 kWh in this week alone, the highest ever, and twice the normal amount at this time of year.
  • Deep ground temperature is 13.4ºC (but I wish it had got higher after the hot week) A year ago it was 12.2º.
My question is now to imagine how it will work out in the late Autumn, because it's a fact that Autumn 2010 was much colder than usual. If Autumn 2011 is 'normal', these figures are likely to go on getting better! But having had quite a good Summer, there might be a weather backlash and another very cold Autumn. The solar capture figures so far still reassure me that the new design of Sunbox is working better.
  There is a clear 100 kWh difference between the highest ever PV (3,354) and the lowest ever GSHP figure (3,254). This is more than a typical equinox week of GSHP working (75-90 kWh), but still a fraction of a typical winter week of GSHP (120-160 kWh).

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Marital Gas Pilot

27 Oct 2011: Although we don't use the gas for heating, we have it, because the builder put it in, because he had already paid the gas board for the mains supply. We installed a gas fire in the living room. We used it a tiny bit in 2007, didn't use it at all during 2008 and 2009, and in 2010, we paid for it to have a clean and then used only 78 pence worth.
   We have a carpet in that room and the underfloor heating is very slow to respond to temperature changes. As my dear wife really finds our living room cold, I felt obliged to have the gas fire available and the damn thing needed another service - because we don't use it, the device gets clogged up and the internal battery discharges, so we are told. It's working now, and we will leave the pilot light on during the winter, so that it stays usable. I already record gas consumption once a week, so I will compute this into overall heating. As it has so far consumed only £5 pounds worth of gas in 4.5 years, this will not add up to much.

Pilot's up!
We have found with delight that the room is now warm without needing to turn the fire on. The pilot light burns quietly all the time during the evenings - it seems to be equivalent to about half a kilowatt. With the good insulation of the room and the curtains closed in the evening, there's enough heat to keep the room warm. Seriously! Although it is a balanced flue device and the emission is going outside, the metal casing of the device is hot enough to emit heat into the room, enough to make it comfortable.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

AnafSolar presentation

AnafSolar's website, home page
25 Oct 2011: The Solar Power UK 2011 exhibition is in Birmingham and everybody solar seems to be coming. AnafSolar are an italian manufacturer of PV-Thermal panels and they invited the people they met at Ecobuild 2011 to come to a one day 'training course' in using PV-T.
   Being the first time they had presented in the UK, it was unclear whether it was a 'presentation of the concepts' or literally a 'training course' - we went with an open mind because we have read up on it beforehand and believe in the concept.
   I travelled there with David Hill of Carbon Legacy, and there were about 30 attending. Both David and I are convinced that this is a way of the future, if linked to thermal storage and GSHPs, and went determined to make this work.
   AnafSolar started in 1976 as a manufacturer of fire extinguishers and have a leading place in the Italian market for this. They fitted a large amount of PV panels on the factory roof to reduce their power consumption, and benefit from the sunshine of Pavia, Italy. They became aware that the PV panels could be 10% more efficient if cooled, and began to develop their own product using technology from the refrigeration industry.

A naf solar presentation, good product
The course was not well presented, and we only got the information when we asked good questions. However, the product sells itself to those of us who understand the technology, even if the company doesn't yet have well prepared presentations in english, with illustrations.
  A Danish guest said at one point "Let me say, that the principle benefit of PV-T has got to be in thermal storage in the ground", and that was music to my ears. I agree with him fully, you need a coolish thermal store to dump the heat into, not a hot water tank.

The idea of PV-T
PV (grey) is from a normal panel,
the thermal power (pink) is far greater on the same day.
 The heavy dotted line is showing the 10% PV power
increase in late morning and all afternoon
from the liquid cooling. 
The idea is that if a PV installation of 4kW can normally produce 3,300 kWh/yr, it would have 10% more power capture if cooled by liquid circulating during the summer months, producing perhaps 3,600-3,700 kWh in a year. That's great for the Feed in Tariff earnings. In addition, the thermal capture from such an array is about 2.5-3.0 times as much, if you have a means to store it. This is where thermal storage comes in. On my roof, I could expect to bury 7,000-8,000 kWh/year, providing the borehole with free heat, and this would be all the heat that the GSHP needs for the entire year for the entire house. the GSHP would still consume electricity, but would be working from such a warm medium that it would use even less than it does now.

  There are 'issues', such as pipe diameter into the panels, and conflict of aluminium and copper piping, but these can be met by good circuit design. There is also the requirement for smart switching and valving, as I have on my present system.
    The complexity for the installers attending is that one needs the 'Full Monty' to make it worth doing. Instead of doing PV one year, and then perhaps a solar thermal or GSHP another, the whole thing must be an integrated installation at the same time (to get the best results) - difficult to understand if you are not an expert on the entire range of technologies. Great for New-build, difficult for Retrofit.

The next direction
I had a chance to show the AnafSolar guys my research on the GSHP and Sunbox system here. What I would really like to do, is to take the PV panels off my house, replace them all with AnafSolar panels, tee them into my ground loop and monitor the result - compare with the existing sunbox.  This is the only house in the UK which is ready to go with all the infrastructure in place - the GSHP, the borehole, the plumbing system in the loft that goes directly to the borehole - and a researcher ready and willing to monitor every day the resulting energy flows.
   A major problem with this is that you can't legitimately sell on second hand PV panels. Apparently every panel is registered with OfGem, and they would show up again if installed elsewhere, disqualifying the owner from the FIT.
    The 22 180Watt panels could be used either on an off-grid installation, or I could talk to OfGem and explain that these have been taken off for research purposes to be replaced with the equivalent wattage, and would they kindly de-register the original panels. If I have the backing of my Professor, this might be possible.
  Thinking rationally, my PV roof is working so well that it's too good to disturb, so I will probably just add more panels to the South Wall. I am also considering a small house extension to the south, which could be roofed with AnafSolar panels.

Monday, October 24, 2011

PV for 2010-2011

23 Oct 2011: The PV harvest for the last year is at an all time high and this is true despite all the rude things people have said about the summer. We usually expect a lousy Winter because of the bulk of Sharp Hill - we hope to catch up during the sunny months. This year, the Summer started earlier, with an exceptionally high March, April and May, and our annual average is the highest ever.
   I run my years from the start of Winter, 1 October, the date of the original installation in 2009.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

ThermoElectric Heat Pumps!

Illustration from the Watronix website
21 Oct 2011: One of the advantages of working in a University is that you find there is always someone researching in something useful - it's a bit of luck to know the right ones and to ask the right questions.
    Having a Friday evening pint with one of my colleagues, Mark W, and randomly asking him what he is doing, I discovered he is an expert on ThermoElectric Heat Pumps - using the Peltier Effect. Used in the right way, similar devices can convert a heat difference into electrical power, rather like a motor becoming a dynamo.

Technical datasheet.
Watronix information
Wiki information HP
Wiki information Generating

Before you or I get too excited, let's look further - I have also discovered that these are very small - from a few millimetres to a postage stamp, and the largest about the size of a playing card - and quite expensive. They have only about half the COP of a vapour compression heat pump like the one we are using, even if they could be scaled up enough to heat a house. There is also no set way to deliver or extract the heat or coolth, and how to group them.
   One of the areas of Mark's research is to work out ways of doing this. Usually, a heat sink is fixed to one side and the other side is cool, to cool the interior of a piece of electronic equipment, perhaps. So this could be used for heating, if a fast moving water jacket (ground loop) was on the cold side side and a slow moving water jacket (heating circuit) was on the other. You would need an awful lot of playing cards to heat a house... :)

Veissman Technical Guide

Basic Principle of Heat Pump, in Veissman
21 Oct 2011: I have had an interesting evening discovering the range of Veissman heat pumps. I was directed to this by reading an email about the Veissman Technical Guide 9447529 - which is full of much of the most authoritative information on Heat Pumps, installation, boreholes, etc. It's a PDF and can be downloaded from the link on this page.
  I have been able to update my pages on this blog with some of the information about Borehole specification, and I feel very lucky to have discovered this. I will add it to the links on the right hand side, for future reference.
  There is also a very good reference guide on Solar thermal panels, setup, orientation, electrics, etc, in the Veissman Vitosol Technical Guide.
  Weirdly, despite the comprehensive quality of these two excellent publications, there seems no hint whatsoever of the idea of joining them together, i.e. Solar Thermal Charging of the Ground. Perhaps I ought to write to Veissman.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Poster to China

21 October 2011: Phew! Finally got the poster off to Ningbo, here is a reduced size version of it.
Here also is the Updated Powerpoint document about the installation, with most of the useful information condensed into 21 pages. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Turbo charge?

20 Oct 2011: Naming games
  I have been trying to think of a word for this phenomenon, and the word 'Catalytic' keeps coming to mind. In a sense this is where THREE plus ONE equals not four but SIX because the added ingredient is more than an arithmetical addition. But in Chemistry, strictly speaking, the catalyst is not part of the reaction, it is 'interfering' beneficially. So, catalyst is not the right word.
Twin boreholes with a shared warm zone. If the daytime
heat has been put down, the area around the pipes is
temporarily warmer than the greater mass around.
   However a better analogy is 'Turbo' - in which momentum accumulated just prior to it being needed is then harnessed to add extra performance - as in turbocharged car engines. There, a turbine spinning in proportion to engine speed can suddenly be diverted to supplying air at a faster rate to the engine if you put your foot down while overtaking. The KERS system in Formula One cars stored rotational momentum of braking, shortly before granting that power to the car as it accelerates out of the corner.
Seasonal difference
At the equinox time, the heat delivered on a bright sunny day is stored immediately around the borehole pipe and it is warmer than the mass around it because of the warm daytime. So for the first part of the evening heating, the GSHP does not need to reach out to the larger mass around, it can simply grab that day's heat back first.
In winter, the heat falling on the sunbox on a sunny cold day is immediately useful to the GSHP and reduces its workload in clawing heat from down below.

Renewable Heat Premium

19 Oct 2011: When we had our Heat Pump installed in 2007, we did get a small support grant to help with the cost. There are more funds available since August 2011. The Renewable Heat Premium is a new scheme, mainly for people whose primary living property (i.e. not a second home) is off the Gas grid or who elect not to use Gas. This is additional to the Renewable Heat Incentive.

In a nutshell, it's:
• £300 for Solar Thermal HW
• £850 for Air Source Heat Pump
• £1250 for Earth or Water source Heat Pump
• £950 for Biomass boiler
The scheme runs until March 2012. Better get your skates on!

It's explained on the Energy Saving Trust website:

It's also explained on the Ice Energy website, for would-be buyers of Heat Pumps, for whom there is little alternative if they live off the Gas grid unless they want to lose a fortune on Oil, or have a large supply of wood for their wood burner:

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