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The journey to net zero heating and cooling

The Institute of Refrigeration (IOR) will be hosting their first IOR online Annual Conference between 21 to 22 April 2021. This event will be accessible to all. The programme will be packed with case studies that demonstrate how the refrigeration air conditioning and heat pump sector is responding to the challenge of net zero heating and cooling by minimising the need for cooling, maximising the efficiency of RACHP systems and developing innovative technologies that will change how we heat and cool buildings and processes. 

The event will also feature keynote papers from experts in the field of environmental policy development and global heating and cooling initiatives, and workshops on benchmarking, leakage reduction and low GWP refrigerant options.

Conference Aims

  • Bring together experts with the knowledge, understanding and reach to help the UK address the challenge of achieving net zero heating and cooling.
  • Publish a set of technical case study papers that will show technical and nontechnical businesses how they can move from current business as usual practices to a more sustainable way of operation, measuring their progress towards net zero.
  • To support UK Government, businesses in a range of sectors, individuals in relevant occupations, to achieve national and international environmental objectives.
  • The conference outputs will be used to develop a road map for non-technical specialist business owners. This roadmap will allow them to benchmark their businesses as a starting point for their journey towards net zero heating and cooling, by better understanding the potential of low carbon technologies and business practices.

Conference Themes:

Balancing heating and cooling demand: Heating and cooling systems have until now been specified and supplied as separate services. By integrating heating and cooling into one system, energy use could be reduced by half. The opportunities for sharing heating and cooling are not limited to one owner or site – there is vast potential for heating to be shared across site owners, buildings, and processes.

Using energy intelligently: To achieve net-zero, we need to address the issues of where our energy comes from and how we use it.  Our homes and businesses need renewable energy that is both reliable and cheap. The grid needs to be able to supply and store energy generated by intermittent renewables sources such as wind and solar to use when there is most demand.

Making use of best available technology: In a rapidly developing and innovating marketplace purchasers and specifiers need reliable and authoritative guidance on what new technologies are available, as well as where and how they can be used.  We need to share expert experience and knowledge to ensure technologies live up to expectations. 

Reducing the Need for Mechanical Cooling – Alternatives to cooling need to be considered as a first step – passive cooling, natural ventilation – all have a critical part to play in reducing carbon emissions from cooling processes. Low Tech solutions that can avoid the use of energy also need to be made more widely available

Achieving best system performance: System performance in operation– not just component rating – is the critical factor for achieving high efficiency and should be incentivised. The focus needs to be on monitoring, measuring, and maintaining system efficiency over the life of the system – as well as the flexibility to adjust to changing demands.

Developing the best people and skills: Lack of skilled personnel is not just a barrier to the take up of new technology but to the effective implementation of all technologies. The UK suffers from a lack of skilled engineers and experienced RACHP technicians. A long-term industry-driven strategy is needed to recruit, upskill and invest in the future of people in our sector.

Working together: Understanding of the challenges for our sector raised by net-zero cooling is low. Lack of clear communications to ensure consumers make the best purchasing decision and lack of knowledge of specifiers are contributing factors. As experts, we have a duty to work together across sectors, job roles and with policy makers to get our message across more clearly.