14th October 2020

An Analysis on Heating Technologies in Supermarkets

The future of low carbon heating in the commercial sector is important as companies support the UK‘s  commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emission levels to Net Zero by 2050. To ensure the commitment is met, companies must begin developing plans to reduce demands and incorporate low carbon technologies on site.

Erda Energy with the support of Sainsbury’s did a study to compare heating technologies in supermarkets on a cost, carbon, and energy basis. The study used real data to compare several heating technologies against a traditional gas boiler including Combined Heat and Power (CHP) fueled by natural gas / green gas, Biomass boiler with wood pellets, and Erda’s geo-exchange. We looked at a series of high-level metrics to analyse the systems as if they were to operate at a site with the same thermal and electrical demands. We found that when a site installed an Erda system, it outperformed the other technologies in nearly every category.

Other systems have energy losses that reduces efficiency but with Erda’s geo-exchange those energy losses are minimised and a high Coefficient of Performance (CoP) is maintained. For example, The site with the Erda system used over 8,000,000 kWh of primary energy less per year than the site with the CHP system operating 100% of the time. We analysed data from several real sites with CHP machines installed and calculated a system thermal efficiency between 37% and 40%. This low efficiency is a result of wasting large amounts of primary energy while running the machine to generate cheap electricity – this increases the carbon content of both the electricity and the heat.

The sites with the Erda systems installed had emission levels decrease annually as a result of a greening grid, while carbon emissions were fixed for the other heating technologies.  The clean future of grid carbon will ensure Erda continually operates as a cleaner heating technology. The sites with Erda systems installed saved 37,280 tonnes of carbon over 25 years compared to the CHP operating with NG 100%  of the time – which is the equivalent emissions of flying round trip from London to New York every day for 63 years.

Performance drifts are typically seen across heating technologies, meaning when systems are left to operate on their own and not monitored as closely as when they were first installed, they don’t operate as efficiently. “Set it and forget it” is simply not an option for carbon reduction. Erda systems are paired with the Erda | smart™ monitoring tool ensuring the geo-exchange technology continually runs at a high CoP. The constant monitoring allows for preventative maintenance creating a more resilient system. Erda systems since being installed have a 99.99% uptime, eliminating the need for a backup system on site. Conversely the CHP system had a downtime of 19-25% of the year which led to the need for a backup system in many cases.

Because the focus of our study was on heating technologies, refrigeration (which makes up a major portion of a supermarkets energy demand) was not included in the study. However, it should be noted that Erda’s geo-exchange technology has proven reduction in refrigeration demand of 30%, driving the cost down further for the client and saving more carbon and energy.

Each of the technologies used in this study have been tried by supermarkets in the UK in the past but continuing to install inefficient and carbon intensive systems is not an option if future energy and carbon targets are going to be reached. We examined these technologies on a 25-year life cycle basis which nearly brings us to the 2050 Net Zero deadline. The energy systems that supermarkets decide to install over the next few years will play a key role in their ability to be Net Zero ready. We have found from this study that…. Electrifying heating systems combined with on-site renewables, demand reduction, and smart controls is a no-regrets option which will make a low carbon future possible.

To request access to the full report please contact Erda Energy at .

Rachel Feeney
Erda Energy Analyst

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