Home Forums General Discussion what to do when heat pumps are inadequate Reply To: what to do when heat pumps are inadequate

Scott Willis

Hi Norman,
Its good that we can debate more than just coffee!
For my last foray into this today I want to address your important points:

1. “Both (Heat Pumps and solar PV) involve an investment of several thousands of dollars where the principal source of information and advice is the supplier whose bottom line is to sell a system.” Well, this may usually be the case, but isn’t always so, as when we advise on solar systems – we don’t receive any benefit from the advice we give and there are other sources of independent advice as well.

2. “Both involve the assimilation of technical data by the household in an uneven contest; the salesperson will always knows more and can/will use that knowledge to get their needs met.” Again, this depends on the source of information, which is not always biased. I also think that conflating heat pumps and solar PV is a mistake, as building a generation asset is very different from purchasing a piece of technology that increases demand.

3. “Both have un-knowns (to the household) and even though these unknowns differ between heat pumps and PV, both have the potential to notably degrade the value of the investment.” This is true, but then what doesn’t? i.e. buying an internal combustion engine car involves the risk of the unknown in that the oil prices are now very unstable and unpredictable, yet a car is a significant investment that ties up capital with no added value to a property, unlike solar PV and even heat pumps!

4. “PV is complicated in the present environment and the current structure of the electricity market. In 2014 and for the forseable future PV will not reduce and may even add to our carbon emissions.” I would approach this very differently. We could wait until the electricity market is reformed to suit PV, we could wait until there was a feed-in tariff or Regulated Independent Power Purchase Agreement, but that might mean waiting for ever. Meanwhile, we can use what affordable energy surplus remains to install larger amounts of renewable generation. Tier 1 panels from respectable suppliers come with warranties and will last for 20 + years – it is hard to see how PV could add to carbon emissions, particularly if behaviour change occurs, as it always seems to, in a way that improves household energy productivity and reduces overall electricity demand while opening the door to electric motive power.

5. “In strict financial terms a standard PV system in a school, with less than 60% utilisation of electricity generated, is pretty unlikely to be a good investment.” I don’t think that your estimate is accurate here nor your investment opinion in this instance. At my own property we have close to 60% utilisation of the electricity generated from our own 2kW system, and while my wife works in her studio on the property, our energy pull is far more restricted than that of the school and over a much longer day. The greatest part of school energy demand is during the daylight hours and while I haven’t gone into the school’s energy profile in detail I know the Board of Trustees, with some key analytical people, has thoroughly investigated the proposition and are of the opinion that it is now an extremely good investment.

No, I certainly wouldn’t suggest you are anti PV, but you certainly do seem to have a very different experience and different way of looking at PV. Perhaps it costs more up north? Perhaps electricity is cheaper? Down here people are mostly working off real cost and experiencing real benefit, and it doesn’t seem so complicated. Still, I’m glad we can debate more than just coffee!

Cheers, Scott