IRT Surveys wins £5.2m decarbonised housing deal in Aberdeen

By Dominic Ellis
IRT Surveys wins £5.2m decarbonised housing deal but coincides with EUA report warning heat pumps alone will not solve decarbonisation...

Thermal imaging survey company IRT Surveys has scooped a £5.2m project with Aberdeen City Council to deliver a major decarbonisation retrofit scheme across 100 social housing properties. 

The energy efficiency project, which is backed by the Government’s newly launched Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund Demonstrator, continues a long-term partnership between IRT Surveys and Aberdeen Council that spans 20 years.

In that time IRT Surveys has thermally imaged the Council’s entire social housing portfolio of 22,000 homes, helping to diagnose building defects, energy inefficiencies and demonstrate a viable route to net-zero carbon emissions for landlords, whilst also reducing fuel poverty amongst residents.

Following a successful bid to the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), IRT Surveys will now deliver a programme of fabric upgrades and renewable energy technologies across 100 homes as part of the multi-million pound innovation project. 

The decarbonisation scheme will see IRT Surveys work with Aberdeen City Council to deliver a programme of low-carbon generation, and energy efficiency innovations, that aim to demonstrate decarbonisation potential for the Council’s social housing stock.

Leading technologies including solar panels, batteries, and heat pumps to remove the consumption of carbon intensive fuels will be deployed, alongside a behind-the-meter battery storage system to create a decarbonised neighbourhood. 

The installation phase is scheduled for completion in December, after which the energy performance of the 100 homes will be re-surveyed and monitored for a period of six months to demonstrate concept efficacy.

Stewart Little, CEO of IRT Surveys, said: “We are delighted to have been appointed for this landmark project with Aberdeen City Council, a scheme which we are pleased to say has received Government support through the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund Demonstrator. 

"The urgency of the climate crisis means it is vital that we address all carbon impacts from buildings including the UK’s social housing stock. By working alongside Aberdeen City Council, and our delivery partners SMS and Robertson Group, we will develop an intelligent, scalable model that will help decarbonise the Council’s extensive housing portfolio in ways that are both commercially viable and affordable for residents."

Heat pumps alone 'will not solve decarbonisation'

An Energy and Utilities Alliance (EUA) report, Decarbonising heat in buildings: putting consumers first, warns heat pumps alone will not solve the issue of UK domestic heat decarbonisation.

It states that "a mosaic" of heating solutions, including a hydrogen gas network, will be needed if the UK is to deliver on its Net Zero ambitions.

The independent analysis finds that for 8 to 13 million homes – 37% to 54% of the 22.7 million homes using gas - lack of exterior space and thermal properties of building fabric mean a heat pump is not capable of meeting the space requirement of the property, or can only do so through disruptive measures such as solid wall insulation.  

Up to 4 million homes could be made suitable for heat pump retrofit through energy efficiency measures such as cavity wall insulation. 

Mike Foster, CEO of the EUA said while heat pumps will play a key role in the future of heat, it is important to recognise that for them to work effectively as the sole heating source, the building needs to be thermally efficient, and they require internal and external space as well as changes to internal systems such as radiators. 

“Levels of disruption to people in their homes and associated costs mean heat pumps will be a solution for a minority of properties only, so hydrogen, biogas and hybrid systems need to play a significant role in the decarbonisation of heat in order to support our 2050 Net Zero ambition," he said. 

"This analysis shows a house-by-house heating solution is needed, and any thoughts to carve up the UK and force regional solutions upon consumers will be doomed to fail."


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