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World-first smart hydrogen hybrid heating system unveiled in Pembrokeshire

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The world’s first smart hydrogen hybrid heating system has been demonstrated in Pembrokeshire proving technology that could help the UK get to Net Zero.

The trial was part of the UK Research and Innovation-funded Milford Haven: Energy Kingdom project. It was successfully implemented by a collaboration of partners – Port of Milford Haven, Passiv UK, Wales & West Utilities, Kiwa UK, Worcester Bosch, Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, and Pembrokeshire County Council.

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The trial combined a hydrogen-fuelled boiler with an electric air-source heat pump alongside smart control technology and it was conducted in a commercial building at the Port of Milford Haven, the UK’s largest energy Port.

According to The Energy Saving Trust, emissions from home heating and hot water need to be cut by 95% to meet 2050 UK Net Zero targets, and hybrid heating technology will become increasingly important both for commercial and domestic customers.

Hybrid heating systems can flexibly switch between using renewable electricity when it’s available, and green gases like hydrogen at other times. Using clean fuel in this way will enable the full decarbonisation of heat whilst ensuring cost and carbon emissions reductions are prioritised.

For many existing homes and businesses, hybrid heating systems offer an affordable and practical way to decarbonise heating. Research suggests that almost 50% of UK properties are not suitable for standalone heat pumps due to their poor thermal properties and other limitations. [1]For example, many of the UK’s aged housing stock would need disruptive and expensive energy efficiency improvements such as wall and floor insulation and new radiators to be effectively heated by a standalone heat pump system. Hybrid heating systems are a cheaper, and less disruptive alternative that can be fitted as a quick and direct replacement to a typical boiler system.

In this demonstration, Kiwa UK delivered bottled hydrogen to the Worcester Bosch boiler to simulate periods when renewable electricity was unavailable to run the heat pump, or when a temperature boost was required. The smart controls were designed by Passiv UK and integrated with the system seamlessly, automatically switching between the air source heat pump and the hydrogen boiler. Every 2 minutes the system assesses GB energy generation mix and renewable electricity availability on the local grid, and requests the boiler to run on hydrogen when unavailable. Hydrogen is a clean fuel that produces zero carbon emissions during combustion.

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The hydrogen boiler installed as part of the hybrid system was developed by engineers at Worcester Bosch during the last 3 years as part of the BEIS-funded Hy4Heat project, designed to help the country achieve its target of Net Zero emissions by 2050.

Steve Edwards, Commercial Director at the Port of Milford Haven, said: “Having already established itself as the UK’s Energy Capital, the Milford Haven Waterway is now at the centre of a renewable energy revolution, with huge potential to become the low carbon energy capital of the UK, safeguarding thousands of local jobs and creating thousands more new ones.

“To get to Net Zero, we must deliver Net Zero power, transport and heat and we have all the necessary components here on our doorstep in Pembrokeshire to act as a vital cluster of national significance”.

Wales & West Utilities, the gas network for Wales and south west England are one of the project partners.

Matt Hindle, Head of Net Zero and Sustainability said: “We’re committed to playing our part in helping communities across Wales and south west England go green. Between 2021 and 2026 we’re investing £400m to prepare our network to transport green gas like hydrogen and biomethane.”

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“Hybrid heating systems can be easily retrofitted to existing housing stock, without costly changes to radiators or internal pipework, keeping disruption to homes and communities to a minimum. This trial has demonstrated how they can work with hydrogen in place of natural gas.”

“The UK Government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy acknowledged that hybrids could play a transitional role in the 2020s and 2030s but contained no targets for their manufacture or installation. The 2020s must be a decade of delivery for Net Zero and we’d urge Government and policymakers to include hybrids in incentives and support schemes like the Clean Heat Grant, encouraging installations of hybrids to help towards achieving the 600,000 heat pumps per year target, alongside ongoing support to develop hydrogen for heating.”

Cllr Cris Tomos, Pembrokeshire County Council Cabinet Member for the Environment, Welsh Language and Public Protection said: “The Council is proud to lead the Milford Haven: Energy Kingdom project which is positioning the Milford Haven Waterway as a frontrunner for the production, distribution and use of hydrogen. The projects heating and transport demonstrators demonstrate what can be achieved through collaboration with our partners and Pembrokeshire can use these innovations as we work to become a net zero carbon authority by 2030.”

The Milford Haven: Energy Kingdom project is one of the detailed design projects within the Prospering from the Energy Revolution programme of works funded by UK Research and Innovation as part of their Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

The project has set out to design a blueprint for smart local energy systems fuelled by renewable energy and hydrogen, and more specifically how to create demand and make the distribution and use of green hydrogen financially viable within buildings, industry, power and transport.

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Tom Veli, Project Director at Passiv UK said: “Flexibility solutions such as the Passiv UK smart hydrogen hybrid heating control offers the ability to make use of renewable electricity when cheap and plentiful, to warm up the building fabric, and then fall back on hydrogen as an alternative fuel during more expensive periods of peak demand for electricity.”

“Responding to renewable generation and network requirements in real time enables demand to become more agile as opposed to static, creating carbon savings, customer savings and commercial opportunities for a smarter, decentralised grid that is powered fully by renewable energy. The Milford Haven: Energy Kingdom Project is a great example of this.”

Carl Arntzen, CEO at Worcester Bosch said: “Last year our prototype hydrogen boiler was showcased in a domestic setting in Gateshead, but this is the first ever commercial application of the technology, the first hydrogen hybrid, and the first retrofit of a hydrogen boiler into an existing building.

“Within the hybrid heating system, the hydrogen can be used to boost heating during cold snaps, and to lessen demand on the electricity system during busy periods, or when there isn’t enough renewable energy available.

“For 50 years boilers have burned natural gas so to switch to hydrogen, which is a gas that is free from carbon, while maintaining heating and hot water in the same way as a traditional boiler is truly amazing.”

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Mark Crowther, Technical Director of Kiwa UK said: “We are very happy to have been part of this project, in organising the test work and preparing the Safety Case. This is a further demonstration of the future of hydrogen and builds on work under the BEIS Hy4Heat programme and many other experimental hydrogen projects we have worked on.”

Dr Stephen Wyatt, Research & Innovation Director of the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, one of the lead partners in the project, added: “This world first is both an important milestone for the project, but crucially provides a concrete example of how we can achieve the energy transition using technologies which are readily deployable in our existing building stock.

“ORE Catapult is particularly excited about the potential for breakthrough hydrogen technologies to provide increased flexibility to the way we consume electricity, as we deliver greater amounts of green, affordable offshore wind off the coast of Wales and beyond”.

Lead image: Converting the existing gas system to hydrogen (Image: Pembrokeshire Council)

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Business

Pembrokeshire’s NetLet moves into new premises in Milford Haven

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NetLet UK, the fast-growing Pembrokeshire hospitality network which provides holiday accommodation as well as housekeeping and laundry services for the hospitality sector, has moved into new premises in Milford Haven Docks.

The larger premises bring the whole NetLet operation together under one roof and have increased its laundry capacity in line with its growth. This has also enabled NetLet to offer more than 30 new job opportunities.

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The new site includes a laundry, stores, offices, a boardroom and a training centre. The company, which saw 47% growth last year, specialises in fully managed self-catering holiday accommodation. As well as having its own in-house housekeeping department, it also provides laundry and housekeeping services for independent holiday homes and the whole hospitality sector, ensuring year-round employment for its staff.

NetLet managing director Emma Taylor says the new premises have streamlined the company’s operations.

“It enables a much better workflow: laundry is dropped off in our drop off zone, goes straight into the laundry and straight from there into the stores, where it can be packed up ready to go out, with no crossover,” she says.

Emma Taylor at NetLet’s new Milford Haven premises

Despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, NetLet’s rapid growth last year enabled it to invest not only in new premises but also in new equipment.

“We invested heavily into the state-of-the-art laundry equipment including a 25kg washing machine and an automatic iron and fold press, which have increased capacity,” says Emma. “We’re bringing in some more crew vehicles this year too: all of our profits are being reinvested back into the company.”

This means the company is now seeking to recruit two new full-time managers and three senior housekeepers. It also has up to 20 part time seasonal positions available between May and September.

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To support its recruitment drive, the company has redesigned its training package, raised its wages and introduced new bonus packages and rewards for staff.

Other developments are designed to support the company’s long-running commitment to sustainability. It has bought new auto dosers for its washing machines, which cut the amount of chemicals used in each wash.

“We’re very conscious of the green aspects, which is why we make sure we stay as eco-conscious as possible and will be continuing to work on our sustainable development policy,” says Emma. “Even the welcome packs we provide in all our holiday properties are eco-friendly and sustainable.”

Looking to the future, further growth is already on the cards with the company taking on an adjacent building in order to expand its overall operations to facilitate ongoing growth.

“Growth was the main aim for us last year and now we’ve been able to invest to accommodate further growth again,” says Emma. “We have different revenue streams and can mould them into different packages for our clients. This gives us the ability to adjust to market demands and specific needs.”

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Milford Haven

New Milford Haven waterfront hotel opens

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The Tŷ Hotel Milford Waterfront, Milford Haven’s latest destination, has opened its doors to welcome its first guests.

The Tŷ Hotel Milford Waterfront is the latest addition to the expanding Celtic Collection, which will manage the new hotel as part of a partnership with the Port of Milford Haven.

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Located at the heart of the new Milford Waterfront development, the hotel is described as an ideal base for exploring all the incredible sights, sounds and sensations Pembrokeshire has to offer.

The 46,000 sq ft property features 100 bedrooms across four floors, where guests can enjoy unbeatable picture-postcard views across Milford Marina. With a range of stylish, contemporary bedrooms, including family rooms, the hotel is suitable for all types of travellers, from business to leisure.

A vibrant brasserie restaurant, private dining area and bar all take advantage of the spectacular location with floor-to-ceiling windows serving up beautiful views right on the water’s edge. The ground floor also houses a welcoming lobby and an activity suite for fitness.

Inspired by the fresh seafood and sparkling tides of his Pembrokeshire childhood, Executive Head Chef Simon Crockford (former Wales National Chef of the Year) is the heart and soul behind the restaurant.

The new dulce restaurant

Named dulse, after the edible variety of seaweed which grows in abundance around the Pembrokeshire coast, here guests can enjoy crowd-pleasing dishes using the very best of local produce from the land and the sea.

The Tŷ Hotel is managed by Adrian Andrews, who has returned to his native Pembrokeshire roots after forging a successful career away from West Wales as a multi-site manager for Premier Inn in Birmingham, Bristol, and Cardiff.

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Mr Andrews, Manager at Tŷ Hotel Milford Waterfront, said: “It is wonderful to finally welcome our first guests to this fantastic new hotel, which provides the perfect place for visitors to stay and enjoy this amazing location with all its exciting redevelopment.

“I am so proud to call Pembrokeshire home. I can’t wait for guests to discover the vibrant community of Milford Waterfront and the stunning West Wales coastline during their visit.”

As part of a major redevelopment of the waterfront, the Tŷ Hotel will provide a significant draw for new tourists to Milford Haven and Pembrokeshire. The hotel has already created 40 permanent jobs in operations, with many more supported in the supply chain.

Mr Andrews added: “As the hotel has taken shape, we’ve been blown away by the positive reaction from the local area. I’m excited about what this hotel will bring to Milford Haven, both for the community and for business.”

Executive Head Chef Simon Crockford (left) and Adrian Andrews at Tŷ Hotel Milford Waterfront

Andy Jones, CEO at the Port of Milford Haven commented: “All of us at the Port are so excited about the hotel opening this week. The new Tŷ Hotel is great news for Pembrokeshire and is momentous for Milford Waterfront, marking the next phase in our hospitality and tourism strategy. An investment of this kind creates a ripple effect, building even greater positivity among local businesses and the local community. We are a proud Pembrokeshire business and are delighted to have brought this high-quality investment to the area in partnership with The Celtic Collection.”

Local hero, Mr Eric Harries, council member and a former Mayor of Milford Haven on no fewer than five occasions, was invited to be among the very first guests to experience the Tŷ Hotel Milford Waterfront.

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Mr Harries has been unable to return home since his house tragically caught fire on Guy Fawkes Night 2021. The team were thrilled to welcome their guest of honour to the hotel on the opening day.

Mr Harries said: “As a native of Milford Haven, having been in local government for many years, I welcome with open arms the investment that’s been made in the town with the new Tŷ Hotel Milford Waterfront. It is my sincerest wish that it will be a huge success and assist our town in economic recovery.”

Rooms at the Tŷ Hotel Milford Waterfront are available to book now, with rates starting from £86 bed & breakfast per room, per night.

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Business

Pembrokeshire’s NetLet appoints new managing director

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Milford Haven-headquartered hospitality network NetLet UK has a new managing director. Emma Taylor, who joined the company three and a half years ago, has stepped into the role while the company’s founders Penny and Paul Hows stay on as active members of the board.

NetLet provides fully managed holiday accommodation and laundry and housekeeping facilities for the hospitality sector across Pembrokeshire. The company saw 47% growth last year and is currently seeking to recruit two managers, three housekeepers and 10-20 seasonal staff to support further growth.

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Emma Taylor grew up in Pembrokeshire and gained a degree in equine studies from Aberystwyth University before travelling the world working in equine reproduction. She went on to work as a product manager for a biotech company, travelling internationally to build the company’s supply chain. After returning to Wales, she completed a diploma in procurement and supply chain and starting work at NetLet, where she has helped to drive the company’s growth.

“I love anything analytical and anything strategic,” she says. “I’m very grateful for the opportunity the other directors have given me and that all the hard work is now paying off and we are seeing the rewards. We’ve built an infrastructure over the last three years that means we’re ready to take on this growth. We’ve invested a lot into systems software and hardware facilities. Everything is in place now and we’re ready to ready to go.”

The company’s recent successes include the launch of four new websites each tailored to each of the company’s main departments: Holiday Home OwnersSelf-Catering Holidays in PembrokeshireLaundry Services and Housekeeping Services. Significant investments into the laundry operation have included the purchase of new machines, all of which are HACCP (Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Point) accredited, which is a guarantee of high hygiene standards. The new purchases have also helped to increase the company’s green credentials – a commitment that runs through the whole operation.

Last year NetLet won best holiday home rental company in the SME awards 2021, and its strong focus on client satisfaction has been reflected in its online reviews.

“We know how much customer service matters and we plan to maintain our brand continuity and high standards,” says Emma. “We like to have a really good relationship with our property owners and we have the facilities to control all aspects of their holiday homes.

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“We also have the facilities and capacity to take on larger clients. Because we manage properties ourselves, we understand how the housekeeping and laundry should run in holiday homes, B&Bs and hotels. That means we can make everything work well – for example, making sure we have an excellent response rate, and that laundry is delivered in bed packs so that changeovers and services times are optimised.”

The company also has a strong focus on staff satisfaction and career progression: it is raising wages for many roles and introducing new bonus and reward schemes. As a member of The British Institute of Clean Science (BICS), it is also supporting some of its mangers to gain qualifications that will enable them to train housekeepers under the BICS (British Institute of Cleaning Science) standards and provide this as a service to outside clients. The business is keenly aware of its place in the local community and aims to have a positive impact on Pembrokeshire as a whole.

“We want a steady 30% growth this year and towards the end of next year I want to work closely with local businesses and give them opportunities to showcase products and become a local driver to support other businesses,” says Emma.

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