With a vibrant community of over 30,000 staff and students, University College Dublin established a Sustainable Energy Community to support them on their sustainable energy journey and deliver on governmental climate action targets.

  • 35%

    Carbon Savings
  • Net Zero

    Grid Energy Use
  • Practical Learnings

    On Heat Pump Installation

The Project

The key objective of this newly formed community is to inform individuals on sustainable energy practices and research, with a view to reducing carbon emissions on campus. The government Climate Action Plan sets a target for public sector organisations to achieve a 30% absolute reduction on carbon dioxide emissions and 50% energy performance improvement by 2030.

To prepare for 2030 targets and to gain an understanding of the challenges involved in switching to a  heat pump, their cost, and actual energy performance, UCD decided to install one in the restaurant at the Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School. This 90kW heat pump replaced a 20-year-old gas fired sectional boiler. Heat pumps can deliver significant carbon reduction when compared to a traditional gas-fired boiler so UCD were keen to explore this option.

The government climate action plan anticipates the installation of 600,000 heat pumps by 2030. To achieve their vision for a more energy efficient campus, the University applied for support under the Better Energy Community Programme.

The Heat Pump Project cost in the region of €100,000 and the Solar PV €65k. Through the Better Energy Community grant, UCD received a contribution of €28,197 from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.

Public Sector Targets

As a public sector organisation, UCD must achieve a 33% energy performance improvement by 2020. Good progress has been made and UCD  achieved 32.5% improvement by the end of 2018 (this is their SEAI M&R figure and the 2019 figures not available yet).

To help offset the electricity use associated with the heat pump, UCD identified a suitable roof to install solar PV. They installed a 41kWp system consisting of 124 individual solar panels (330W per panel) which, over the course of the year, will produce similar electricity to that used by the heat pump. The University plan to offset 35 tonnes of CO2 every year.

UCD are hoping to work closely with other universities in Ireland going forward to develop common strategies and share learnings so that they can hit future energy and carbon reduction targets. Extensive monitoring has been installed and data is being logged by UCD’s Building Management System. Reports are generated monthly and performance is monitored.

Key Learnings Include:

✔ Physical space requirement is large for air source heat pump and buffer vessel compared to boilers.
✔ When assessing heat pump feasibility, the available electrical capacity in local boards needs to be reviewed
✔ It can be done!

The lead applicant for this project was PowerTherm Solutions

About Better Energy Communities

Better Energy Communities (BEC) is SEAI’s national retrofit initiative with grant support of up to €21 million each year. This programme supports new approaches to achieving energy efficiency in Irish communities.