Vert Technologies, an Edinburgh, U.K.-based manufacturer of conical rotary compressors (CRCs), is encouraging the U.K. heat pumps industry to avoid using high-GWP HFCs in favor of natural refrigerants as heat pumps are increasingly used to decarbonize buildings.

“The fact that demand for electrically driven heat pumps is increasing against the gas-burning competition is clearly good news for the environment,” said Nicol Low, Chief Operating Officer at Vert Technologies, in an article published on theenergyst.com.  “But attention should be paid to where there is potential for further pollution. The high-GWP potential of refrigerants used in these installations is often overlooked.”

Low shared his stance following the Heat Pump Associations (HPA) announcement that about 67,000 heat pumps will be delivered this year in the U.K. based on a survey of its members.  “This equates to nearly a double the number of heat pumps on shelves and in warehouses,” the HPA said.

The HPA represents an estimated 80% of the heat pump market’s manufacturing share in the U.K. The association works to support policymakers in the development of effective heat decarbonisation policy and other matters that affect the interests of end users, wider stakeholders and the industry.

Future-proofing installations

Low is concerned that meeting the surge in demand will mean growing numbers of installations using high-GWP refrigerants, and he highlighted the importance of moving away from using high-GWP refrigerants as soon as possible.

The U.K. is phasing out HFCs in an effort to reduce HFC use by 79% by 2030. Low advised that heat pump manufacturers need to bring this into heightened focus if they seek to future-proof installations.

In switching to natural refrigerants like CO2 (R744) and ammonia/NH3 (R717) in heat pumps, Low suggested using Vert’s CRC compressors, which can achieve the high pressure ratios and absolute pressures needed to get the most out of those refrigerants.

“The CRC can be tailored for use with low-GWP media, creating performant heat pumps,” Low said.

In its announcement, the HPA shared that trained heat pump installers are a key part of the low-carbon transition as they can recommend and deploy heat pumps at the scale net-zero emissions require. In 2020 the association outlined a new route to becoming heat pump installers for sustainable buildings in its report titled: “Building the Installer Base for Net Zero Heating.”

Author Ntsako Khosa

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