Japan's Daikin picks Manchester, UK as test bed for green tech

The logos of Daikin Industries Ltd are seen at the company's office in Tokyo August 29, 2012. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/Files

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) -Japanese industrial company Daikin has signed a deal with northern England's Greater Manchester region to deploy heat pumps in some of its public buildings and act as a test bed for the technology, the company told Reuters exclusively.

Daikin - one of the world's largest air conditioning manufacturers - will provide heat pumps and cooling systems to public buildings including social housing in the city region that will be monitored and tested remotely.

Demand for heat pumps - which rely on electricity to transfer heat - has been booming in Europe amid soaring natural gas prices, with consumers in many countries waiting months for heat pump installations.

Manchester, one of the birthplaces of the industrial revolution, plans to become carbon neutral in 2038, 12 years ahead of the rest of Britain.

"Daikin's aim is to demonstrate and promote technology to achieve carbon neutrality that can be deployed ... around the world," Masatsugu Minaka, chairman of the board of Daikin Europe, told Reuters.

"The two parties' intentions were aligned and they recognised each other as the most suitable partners, leading to the conclusion of this agreement."

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said the partnership with Daikin symbolised the city's industrial ambitions.

"Obviously with that ambition around 2038, we're a place that's going to move faster. In doing so that presents opportunities to organisations like Daikin," Burnham said.

Installations will take place over the next two years, the parties said.

Under the agreement, Daikin will also establish a training programme in Manchester for heating and cooling system skills that are in short supply in Britain.

The deal is part of a wider push by the north of England to attract investment in renewable energy and green tech.

Liverpool plans to become a global leader in tidal energy, while the north east already has a large wind energy industry.

Manchester hopes its universities, known for their strength in science and engineering, will help spur foreign investment.

"Having access to that wealth of talent I think is a big attraction," said Jo Ahmed, a partner at accountants Deloitte and an honorary consul of Japan in Manchester.

Heat pumps, sometimes described as reverse air conditioners, use electricity to concentrate heat potential and are comparatively more energy efficient than gas boilers.

Daikin, headquartered in Osaka, last year said it would build a heat pump factory in Poland as part of its expansion plans.

(Reporting by Andy Bruce; Editing by David Holmes and William James)

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