With ever-changing EU legislation, James Porter, Sales Director, Euro Gas, reviews what it is, when it happens and what to look out for.
It’s not new, we have all heard about it for years, but what is the ongoing impact of the Energy-related Products Directive (ErP) for the commercial heating and hot water industry?
EU legislation has been changing for many years which has affected many products that are used on a day-to-day basis within the commercial heating and hot water industry. The first real impact noticed was within the pump sector which saw the move to pumps using variable speed drives. Since then we have seen various sectors in the spotlight. The biggest shift occurred in September 2015 when space heaters (boilers) and water heaters under 400kW were affected. The legislation was broken into two clear levels, one for energy labelling on products under 70kW and the other through Ecodesign for products falling under the 400kW mark. This increased the minimum level of efficiency for new installations. The greatest challenge here was with oil replacement projects where the minimum efficiency is hard to meet on commercial installations which has seen a rise in opportunities for LPG. In reality the industry on the whole had made a move many years before with the huge rise in condensing products. But it doesn’t end there!
The impending mandatory EU requirements relate to nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from space heaters and water heaters which comes into effect from September this year.
The Ecodesign of the ErP directive will enforce maximum NOx emissions of 56mg/kWh for gas and LPG units and 120mg/kWh for oil-fired units. The legislation, which applies to new equipment up to, and including, 400kW on both new-build and replacement projects, will come into effect from the 26thSeptember 2018. The aim of this is to ensure that only the most energy-efficient, low NOx products are manufactured, specified and installed across Ireland and Europe.
Clearly, any legislation that tackles energy costs and emissions reduction is to be welcomed. In refurbishment projects the EU predicts a 20% drop in energy bills where older equipment is replaced with ErP-compliant products.
But why the focus on NOx? NOx has come under scrutiny of late as clean air warnings have been issued across many European cities. Poor air quality has been linked to asthma, lung and heart related conditions. While road traffic has been identified as a major contributor to outdoor pollution, non-domestic buildings also typically emit NOx. The introduction of maximum NOx emissions from heating is therefore an important step towards achieving cleaner, less polluted air.
While the crackdown on NOx does place more stringent demands on new and replacement units, forward-thinking manufacturers are ahead of the game. In fact, for some manufacturers, reducing emissions has been a priority for years with the result that many low NOx products are now in their third or fourth generation.
In the boiler world this sees Remeha with high gross efficiencies and ultra-low NOx at or below 40mg/kWh on many of their products which include the Quinta range of wall-hung condensing boilers and the new Gas 220 ACE floor standing option plus a further range taking them to an output of 1300kW in a single boiler. For Rendamax the story is similar. The new R40 ECO with a heat exchanger which incorporates HEX geometry means it cools the flue gasses quickly allowing for class leading NOx emissions. The same can be said for their latest R600 floor-standing boilers and the impending R3600 range which give outputs up to 1956kW in a single boiler. With all of this in mind you start to see that this is not a shock to manufacturers.
For water heaters the story is similar. Lochinvar have had a range of low NOx, fully condensing products for years meaning that the enhancements within the product bring it to a place where it is well tried and tested.
Clearly the biggest challenge that any design engineer or installer faces comes in the form of the flue system. Simply changing to a more efficient, condensing product is not really the deal breaker. It can mean condensate lines which may not have been required previously but other than that the impact is minimal. From a flue perspective this could mean a complete change in system from old to new in order to accommodate the condensing units. Inner city Dublin is the same as most European cities in terms of the plantroom location. These are often in basement locations and in many situations the flue run is complicated by a series of bends or hidden sections.
At Euro Gas this is not a new story and is one which we see on a daily basis. Thankfully the flue manufacturers have also been busy and now have a vast array of products which can help in such situations. The lessons learnt in this field show us that if we move to stainless steel then it must be 316 grade to give the overall integrity from a combustion and condensate point of view. Even with these solutions, the fact remains that the challenge lies more in the installation rather than the initial selection.
In more recent times we have also seen where it is easier to close the door on the existing plantroom and move to a packaged plantroom on the roof. Pak Plant who specialise in these off-site solutions have seen an increase in this type of installation. Using a packaged plantroom means that you have total control on the products used and the easiest flue installation possible.
What To Do Next?
Firstly, don’t panic! The manufacturers are well ahead of the curve and have been developing products for this for some time. In addition, Euro Gas has a wealth of experience in selecting the right product for each situation to ensure compliance. Talk to us and we can offer the latest advice. Early engagement can ensure that the most appropriate equipment is specified and that the design is robust. The result is clean air. Surely we all want a bit of that?