Published by Brian Coyle on


So we don’t need fire like a caveman, they come in BIG as well as small sizes ( but big is better) and sources of heat are all around…….but why would anyone want to use a big heatpump? They cost ten times what gas boilers do. They aren’t as compact and the fuel doesn’t just squirt out a small pipe.

Well ABBA kind of spell it out, albeit it takes a good few of their songs to build the picture.

Picking up on last months idea, it has to start with 1974s Waterloo. Someone asked me which bits of Britain are suitable for heatpumps and I honestly answered……the wet bits. Waterloo perhaps also as it is a battle to get the technology understood but also because after several years ABBA landed on the scene in a big contest. I was only 1 year old. Cripes.

Where next. Happy New Year, Happy New Year…….well it was for DRAMMEN. It cleared it’s 12 month observation period: not without some stories to tell. Maybe we will write a musical one day. Now in its 3rd winter it is churning away at 14MW at 90C lifted from the fjord at 2C.

The winner takes it all. Actually it couldn’t be further from the truth. This is more pertinent to biomass where those who control the resource will make the profits and the rest of us will suffer. Sound familiar. sound like the fossil fuel market. well if you like the way that has manipulated our society, our economy, our politics…….go for it. But don’t complain when prices rise and you can’t control it.

With big heatpumps the resource is free. Up the way, down the way or side ways, the heat sources are easily accessible. No political barriers, no international trade barriers, no worries.

Mama Mia…here I go again, my my…….how can I resist you. Surely the control is reason enough? Well frankly

Money, money, money, must be funny, in a rich man’s world. So where do the economics lie? Hard to be precise as it depends on how big, how warm, how convenient. In DRAMMEN they save €5k per day on a €5m investment. 1000 days, or about 3 years. Sure the pipes cost a bit but I doubt it is more than 5 years. Surely that’s too long? Well 2009 was the year Michael Jackson died, so too Patrick Swayze, and Booby Robson.

Barack Hussein Obama II was inaugurated as the 1st African American USA President, Brazil awarded the 2016 Olympics.

Internationally, the Icelandic banking system began its collapse, and Russia shut off the tap on the gas supplies to Europe.

It was also the year a flight taking off from Newark suffered multiple bird strikes and crash landed safely in the Hudson. Ironically the same year Abdelbasit Ali Mohamed Al Megrahi was released from a Scottish Prison on companionate grounds.

The one thing we can agree on all of the above 2009 events was that it wasn’t that long ago and yet long enough for a facility to break even and earn €5k a day saving for ……certainly the next 15 years that the heatpump will last and maybe for as long as the pipes last around 100 years.

I have a dream….. It really all just comes down to daring to dream. Daring to make it happen. At the end of the day it’s just chunks of metal and engineering. A concept spoken of since 1852 by Lord Kelvin at a lecture at Glasgow University. Moving heatuphill thingamybobs. Sure the technology has improved a bit but the biggest difference is the price of fossil fuel.

This happens for 2 reasons. Basic laws of supply and demand. More folk want it that the producers are willing to sell. The price stays high. The second is due to an increasing level of carbon awareness.

S.O.S The world is gripped by a carbon SOS. Firstly it doesn’t matter whether you believe in anthropological global warming or whether this can be reversed. The world does and anyway the price of fossil fuel is high enough that it pays to use a big heatpump. So we don’t have to agree on anything other than the economics. The carbon bit is secondary.

Take a chance, take a chance, take a chance…….well actually it’s really kind of dull. You measure your demand, you optimise the temperature of delivery, you find a heat source, and off you go and get a big heatpump.

The real chancers are the ones who just don’t get that jumping from one macro economic controlled heating philosophy to another is chancy. Actually correct that. Even if you own a forest or a Sussex hydraulically fracked gas wellit is just plain dumb. The demand ( price) for biomass and gas will rise and then instead of burning it you can sell it.

I wonder what another famous Glasgow scholar would make of that. Which ABBA song would he sing?

Not Fred Goodwin or Gerry Butler or even Andrew Neil, but the father of modern economics and author of “Wealth of Nations”; Adam Smith.

I rather fancy he would pick Money, Money, Money as he certainly would understand that importing fuel and burning it was undermining the very fabric of our economy.

Heatpumps work and the definition of insanity is to keep making the same mistakes and expect a different result.

We all want a strong micro and macro economy. Lots of jobs, and a healthy earth.

Some say we didn’t inherit it from our ancestors we are borrowing it from our kids………I wonder if in 20 years they will look back in anger. Sounds like next blog is all about hem two Mancunian brother Noel and Liam. Crikey.

Categories: SRE Blog