…heated by renewable energy from the river Exe

Recently, the Earl of Wessex officially opened a £5.6 million Outdoor Education Centre at Haven Banks on the River Exe.  But what many people don’t know is that the heating for the centre is provided by two remarkable 30 kW water source heat pumps, installed by SunGift Energy.

The centre – which will provide outdoor education for more than 25,000 young people a year – will include courses on sailing, canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing, climbing, caving, orienteering, archery, raft building, team building and first aid.

Renewable energy was an essential part of the building’s design, so SunGift was delighted to be able to provide the solution: two 30 kW heat pumps that will supply all of the energy for its underfloor heating system, keeping the rooms at a steady temperature all year round.

Heat from the River Exe

“This was a particularly exciting project for us,” said SunGift’s Jamie Burnham, who managed the installation, “as we are deriving power from one of our most affluent local resources – the River Exe.”

For the installation we used equipment manufactured and supplied by Cornish company Kensa.

Installation is plain sailing for our specialists

Firstly, SunGift assembled ten specially designed ‘pond mats’ which are made up of 250m of coiled pipes mounted on stainless steel frames. Each one was sailed over to the quayside next to the building where they were submerged in the river and connected to the centre’s heat pumps.

But how does the technology work? Put simply, the submerged pipes contain a special non-toxic liquid that is pumped around absorbing low grade heat energy from the river water. The liquid in the pipes returning from the river is then passed through a heat exchanger in the heat pumps which condenses the energy and transfers it to provide heat into the centre’s heating distribution system.

Exceptional performance

One of the best things about a water source heat pump is that the heat-transfer rate from water is even higher than that in the ground or air, and the circulation of the water source provides a constant energy replacement.  What’s more, using water means there is no need to dig large trenches, so costs are reduced, there’s less disruption, and the return temperature to the heat pump is usually higher than either the ground or winter average air, so ‘coefficient of performance’ is usually higher.

More about how water source heat pumps work in the YouGen guide

Do you have an available water source?  If you’re interested in finding out more about a system email Jamie (designteam@sungiftsolar.co.uk) or call us on 01392 213912.

Find out more about the new outdoor education centre here (http://www.haven-banks.co.uk/)