Utility Week

Utility Week 17th April 2015

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The Topic: Heat UTILITY WEEK | 17TH - 23RD APRIL 2015 | 9 The heat sector has a big impact on UK energy consumption and emissions 1/2 of all energy consumed is through heat 1/3 amount of the UK's carbon emissions accounted for by heat 80% of heat is used to heat homes 20% of heat is high temperature industrial heat 80% of heat is generated using gas HEAT BY NUMBERS Opinion: Seize opportunities through investment and innovation "Attention is turning to heat, which accounts for around a third of the UK's total green- house gas emissions. "Industry faces new opportunities and chal- lenges in the decades ahead. For example, heat and gas networks will compete for cus- tomers where these are built in parallel. However, owning and operating heat net- works could be a good match for companies already specialised in managing energy net- works and allow them to future-proof their businesses." Fabrice Leveque, senior research- er, Carbon Connect THE FUTURE OF HEAT IN THE UK In late 2014, independent trade group Carbon Connect produced its first report on the future of heat in the UK, calling on the next government to set heat as a priority for the coming decade. In presenting its vision, the report took into account the views of the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Committee on Climate Change, the Energy Technologies Institute, National Grid, the UK Energy Research Centre and Delta EE. Although each body offers a different poten- tial pathways to a decarbonised heat sector, four areas emerged as important areas of development, the report said. Energy Efficiency In some models, increasing the ef- ficiency of the UK's housing stock through retrofitting measures could save between 5 and 30 per cent of current heat consumption. Combining energy efficiency and heat solutions in tandem could offer additional benefits: energy efficiency measures can reduce the size of the electric heat pump needed, saving money on both the upfront and running costs of the heating system. In addition, by 2050 estimates suggest that around 20 per cent of homes and two-thirds of service sector buildings will be new-build, so they will be more heat efficient because of modern building standards. However, the report cautioned that the government's proposed 2016 Zero Carbon Homes regulation is unclear on exactly how efficient buildings will need to be in practice. The report noted that the rollout of smart meters would allow the gathering of much better evidence on the effect of efficiency measures in practice. Gas To meet decarbonisation targets, heat derived from gas will need to fall from current levels of around 80 per cent by as much as three-quarters in some models, or even more in others, according to Carbon Connect. The exact cut to gas-heat use in the long term will depend on the extent to which the UK decarbon- ises other sectors, including power and transport. The means of shift- ing heat away from gas include the use of biomethane and hydrogen. However, both raise questions over availablility and cost. The UK could also shift the burden of much of its heat to electrified heat, while continuing to use gas to meet winter peaks to reduce the price impact of peak power. The report suggests the use of hybrid heating systems, which combine an electric heat pump with a small gas boiler to provide top-up peak-time heat. Electricity Currently, just one-tenth of UK heat comes from electricity, although this is set to rise consid- erably through the increased use of resistive and storage heaters and small or large electric heat pumps, which draw on ambient heat in air, water or the ground. By 2050, the Carbon Connect report suggests that between 30 and 75 per cent of heat could be electrified. However, the effective- ness of decarbonising through resistive and pump heating will depend on the low-carbon inten- sity of the UK's power supply. In addition, the carbon savings from heat pumps will be sensitive to the level of energy efficiency of the building, which could affect the economics of these efforts. District Heat Carbon Connect highlights district heating as the "the biggest piece of the jigsaw missing from the puzzle of future heat". District heating could account for 40 per cent of heating by 2050, but the technology suffers from limited UK-specific capital cost forecasts, a developed UK supply chain, regulatory frameworks and expe- rience in connecting private con- sumers to heat networks. Again, the carbon savings from this route would depend on the availability of low-carbon heat sources. In the medium term, combined heat and power could play a role, but with- out carbon capture and storage it would not be a long-term solution. This option is flexible, though, and could benefit from geother- mal and waste heat from thermal power plants as well as commer- cial and industrial activities.

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