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Energy efficiency challenge dominates 2018 IOR Conference agenda

Government, industry and academia came together at Excel in London to consider how innovations in heat transfer and cooling technolgoy can better help realise UK lower carbon aims, as well as potential obstacles

Energy Efficiency within heating and cooling systems and its broader impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions was a key theme of the 2018 Institute of Refrigeration (IOR) Annual Conference taking place today in London.

This year’s event brought together experts from government and academia with technology providers working on major heat network and data centre project to consider how smarter and integrated technology systems may meet a need for more efficient temperature management.

Conference chair Mike Nankivell said the growing importance of energy efficiency was clearly being felt across the industry in both product design as well as the broader control and operation of systems.

Heat recovery was put forward as one important example of where industry was focusing efforts on innovation to try and reduce overall environmental impact.

Mr Nankivell opened the event arguing that the concept of energy efficiency and a need to consider it within future cooling systems was now high on the industry agenda alongside manufacturers coming under greater pressure to transition away from higher global warming refrigerants.

He said, “it is worth saying that the heating and cooling sectors are facing some very interesting challenges today. You might say there is nothing new there, particularly where the systems and products feature in the refrigeration cycle.”

Also speaking at the event was Ruth Richmond, policy lead for the future framework for heat and decarbonisation in buildings at the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS. Ms Richmond spoke on the challenges facing government in setting out a national strategy for cooling and heating systems to help realise ambitions to create a low carbon economy over the next three decades.

Ms Richmond said that the Clean Growth Strategy published by government last year was the start of an ongoing process to meet its legally binding targets to decarbonise buildings and a large number of industrial processes up to 2050.

The independent Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which advises government on environmental policy has over the last month called for more specific commitments from Whitehall to ensure that its national targets will be viable in the long-term.

However, Ms Richmond accepted that exact methods of planning how cooling and heating systems were difficult to predict 30 years in advance with continual industry engagement and consultation seen as vital to future proofing ambitions.

She told delegates that while focusing on how best to use financial incentives and support packages to push innovation in the industry, the government would always be wary of backing one specific type of technology for meeting aims, whether in the form of heat pumps, chillers or other types of technology.

Ms Richmond added, “Government isn’t best placed to do [push a particular solution], there are now a lot of good technologies out there and we want to make sure we understand them to give people guidance and the help they need to take up this technology. We do not want to commit to however many million heat pumps or biomass systems or whatever other technologies such as hydrogen technology or CHP may be out there.”

“All those things will have different uses for different places and we want to be able to give people the ability to make that choice for the right technology for them.”

More on the conference can be read in February’s edition of RAC Magazine that will be published shortly.

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