Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Kingspan connection

15 Feb 2012: Kingspan visited the house, in the form of Karl Foote who represents Kingspan Renewables - which include the marketing of the Varisol evacuated tubes that I have thought would be highly suitable for extending the Peveril Solar house research project. We discussed how high temperature collectors might be added to the existing system, with control to monitor either or both systems. Although the house is already carbon zero, the idea is to research into comparative performance of low temperature and high temperature collectors - and make it even more efficient. If the addition of tubes will increase the Energy level in the underground store, then it gives the system a longer run into the Winter months after a Summer of charging.
     This could lead to deciding if future installations are better done with Tubes or with a Sunbox. I think there would be market resistance to having a sunbox on the wall, especially in areas of visual sensitivity. Flat plate solar panels or arrays of tubes fit more comfortably onto a roof, and often it is difficult to tell if they are a Velux or a solar thermal panel - in fact i gather that Velux market a panel that looks like one of their roof lights - to fool the planners, perhaps?
     I am hoping that Kingspan could see this as an interesting niche technology to adopt and promote. At the present time, they are currently only promoting air source HP, and I can understand why. The existing GSHP market is smaller, and is overcrowded with existing suppliers, and needs more customisation for each installation. Logically, it has to grow, especially if it can be found to be more efficient with solar augmentation.
This circuit diagram would work with all conditions, with any part of the system active or isolated.
Retrofit solar charging
Apart from the potential for new installations, there is a market for retrospective fitting to existing GSHPs. The GSHPs that have already been installed in the UK (which are mostly rural houses off the gas grid) could consider Solar augmentation as a means of augmenting them, especially if they have undersized boreholes or ground loops - for them, the Tubes solution is more compact, better looking, and cheaper to instal than my custom built Sunbox. So this is an existing market opportunity if one can find a way to advertise to them. However, the ground conditions have to be right, and one would never promote solar charging if the storage would be unstable (e.g. in water bearing gravel).

17 Feb 2012: PostScript: Kingspan have written to say they would like to support the project! 

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