In European Union countries, including the UK, tightening legislation on energy efficiency for buildings favours the use of renewable energy and heat pumps. This technology is increasingly becoming a part of the energy mix.
In the UK, the market for heat pumps has been growing quickly since 2009. Although it is still much smaller than other European markets, it is expected to grow at high two-digit rates in the future.
In order to enable the end users to reap the true benefits of the growing heat pump technology, many European countries have set up different certification and incentive schemes with the common aim of promoting awareness and proper deployment of heat pumps while encouraging the purchase of higher efficiency products.
Some of the certification schemes in individual countries, such as the UK, are supported by local incentive schemes. There are also certification schemes at the European level 1 such as Eco-label and EHPA quality label. The incentive schemes only support the products that have achieved a certain performance standard, therefore they provide confidence and reassurance to specifiers that they are choosing a good quality product.
The performance of heat pumps is measured as a coefficient of performance (COP). Although the criteria for COP differ between the schemes, what brings all these schemes together is the European standard EN 14511, and the fact that only the products tested to this Standard are accepted by the schemes. This offers consumers further confidence in independently-assessed products.
Given the above, accredited test laboratories such as BSRIA play an important role in the field of ensuring the quality of the heat pump technology.
There are two main schemes specifically run in the UK: the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS), and the Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA) scheme.
The MCS, supported by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, focuses on product and installer certification, with grants available to applicants who meet the required criteria. Grants of up to £2500 per property are available to households, community organisations, public, private and not for profit sectors. Heat pumps with a capacity of up to 45 kW are accepted, however each technology has a minimum COP requirement.
All thermal performance tests are carried out in accordance with EN 14511, and heat pumps have to be tested by a UKAS accredited or similar test laboratory. In addition to thermal performance tests, safety tests must be conducted in accordance with Part 4 of EN 14511.
Sound characteristic tests are also a requirement of the MCS and have to be carried out in accordance with ENV 12102. This scheme also requires a factory production control visit to further ensure the consistent quality of the accepted products.
When applying for the ECA scheme, managed by the Carbon Trust on behalf of the Department of Energy and Climate Change, a manufacturer can self-declare the COP of their unit at the prescribed EN 14511 test conditions. Provided the declared values meet the minimum performance criteria for each technology, the heat pump will be added to the Energy Technology Product List (ETPL).
The ETPL is audited annually, and a selection of units from each technology and multiple manufacturers are chosen to be tested by an independent test laboratory with UKAS accreditation or similar. When the units are tested independently, the manufacturer declared values must be at least 95 per cent of the independent test results in order to remain on the ETPL.
Companies buying listed products can claim an enhanced capital allowance which is a tax benefit against the purchase cost of the heat pump and other direct costs such as delivery cost, installation and professional fees. This tax benefit is only available to companies that pay UK Corporation Tax.
Both the MCS and the ECA scheme require the same test point for air-to-water, water-to-water and brine-to-water heat pumps.
Two schemes are running in Ireland, both managed by Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI): the Greener Homes Scheme (GHS) and the Home Heating Appliance Register of Performance (HARP).
Grants are available through the Greener Homes Scheme (GHS), for homes occupied prior to the 30 June 2008. The required water-to-water and brine-to-water test condition for the Greener Homes Scheme is the same as the MCS and ECA scheme. However two test points are required for air-to-water heat pumps.
Part of the Home Heating Appliance Register of Performance (HARP) scheme focuses on heat pumps, and each technology has a minimum COP requirement based on the average of multiple test points, for example air-to-water heat pumps require three test points in accordance with EN 14511.
The performance data from the thermal performance tests is used to determine the Building Energy Rating (BER), which was made compulsory for homes being sold or rented from 1 January 2009.
In other countries within the EU, there are many other schemes on a local level but the main quality labels running in Europe are Eco-label and the EHPA Quality Label. Although they do not have backing of incentive programmes, both schemes provide confidence to specifiers when choosing products of higher quality.
Eco-label, the official EU mark for Greener Products, is a voluntary scheme uses criteria evaluated by independent accredited third parties. The European Eco-label, (with its flower logo) denotes products with high environmental performance. Products that meet the criteria can carry the flower logo, which is recognised throughout the European Union and European Economic Area countries.
The European Eco-label accepts both electric and gas heat-pumps with a maximum heating capacity of 100 kW, but does not cover heat pumps that can only provide domestic hot water for sanitary use.
Sound characteristic tests in accordance with ENV 12102 are also a requirement of the European Eco-label.
The EHPA Quality Label, (formerly the DACH quality label) is made up of associates from various European countries. The idea of the quality label is to provide one set of common requirements across the associate countries for both performance and quality service. The EHPA Quality Label accepts electrically-driven heat pumps, with and without domestic hot water capability, up to a capacity of 100 kW.