Ensuring access to affordable homes in Merseyside

Torus Homes, a Torus Group company, builds affordable homes in the North West of England. The company has a portfolio of more than 20,000 properties, including four low-rise tower blocks each consisting of nine apartments over three floors in Prescot, Merseyside, UK. The apartments were heated by ineffective and extremely costly electric panel heaters. Tenants often complained about excessive electrical bills; others rarely heated their apartments because the electric heaters were not working. And because of the heaters’ restricted use, many apartments showed signs of damp.

All apartments had benefited from a 2.5-kW solar panel array consisting of 394 solar panels and a battery storage system supplying each of the four blocks. Torus contracted Ground Heat to improve the use of the solar panels and battery storage. Specifically, the project involved integrating other technologies with ground source heat to increase efficiency by using captured electricity to run heat pumps at minimum cost. Owing to our extensive experience of installing similar pumps in Manchester, UK, we formulated a design that required an inverter-driven compressor and variable power output. We. We collaborated with Austria-based manufacturer Heliotherm and engineered an innovative 1–6 kW inverter-driven heat pump with a facility to link with the solar panels and the battery storage to address demand-side response.

Reducing fuel poverty

The energy used is supplied via ground source heat pumps. Through our bespoke Heliotherm-engineered pump, for each 1 kW of grid, battery or solar-generated electricity that we funnelled into a ground source heat pump, we retrieved 4.3 kW of heat, thus making the units 420% more efficient than any other heating appliance available. The system, which combines the most common renewable technologies into one, is unlike any other. It is designed to address the issue of demand-side response, which will future-proof ground source technology and revolutionise how consumers operate heating systems.

Our system helped to reduce fuel poverty and improve the residents’ quality of life. Many reported their great satisfaction at being able to heat their entire apartments at a considerably reduced cost. Torus Homes awarded Ground Heat further contracts. The project also won Ground Heat the accolade Innovation of the Year at the British Renewable Energy Awards.