Most of the technology to deliver low carbon heating is known, it now has to be demonstrated and proven at scale
People are diverse, they want different things from their heating so a one-size fits all approach will not work
More “real consumer” data is needed by testing different types of low carbon technology
Decarbonising domestic heat is one of the more cost effective ways of reducing emissions in the UK, but an integrated systems approach is needed, according to the ETI who today have released over 70 new documents and project reports from its Smart Systems and Heat technology programme.
Its analysis of the UK’s energy system shows that although decarbonising heating is a very complex systems challenge, it should be done, as it is cheaper than tackling emissions reductions in many other sectors.
However, a one-size fits all approach will not work and consumers have to be at the heart of any solutions as people are different and have different needs so a variety of solutions need to be prepared and demonstrated.
The ETI also believes systems planning has to show how low carbon heat provision is driven by local environments, infrastructure driven and how it delivers consumer value.
As a result, more “real consumer” data is needed by testing different types of low carbon technology in homes, to help understand what motivates consumers, what improves the heat experience for them and how installations can be simplified to ensure they are more convenient and barriers to adoption are removed.
More local area energy planning should also take place as planning at a local level can play a vital role in identifying, building consensus and developing coherent low carbon transition plans to build business confidence to invest in this capability, including the necessary networks of pipes and wires.
ETI’s research shows there are pathways for decarbonising domestic space and water heating – local area schemes using heat networks and individual home systems using electric heat and potentially hydrogen in the future.
Decarbonising domestic heat is very complex from a systems integration challenge, but it remains one of the more cost effective ways to tackle emissions in the UK, especially when compared to the cost of making deeper cuts in other sectors such as aviation and industry.
The future of heating in the UK will be different, but at the moment no one fully understands quite how different. The challenge is one of replacing natural gas based heating in its present form. But consumers are not presently engaged to change their heating systems to combat emission reductions.
The next decade is critical in preparing for any low carbon heating transition as rapid implementation is required from 2025 to build supply chain capability and capacity.
Most of the technology to deliver low carbon heating is known, it is simply underdeveloped in practice so it needs to be proven and proven at scale with large scale demonstrations and consumer engagement.
The same solution will not suit everyone and to deliver low carbon heat effectively we need to fully understand what people want from heat.
It is probably time to start seeing heat as a service people want to pay for – so setting a unit price for energy consumption is the wrong place to start from.
Enhanced heating control and information will help people value and control what they spend and the future could see people buy low carbon heating packages like they buy mobile phone packages today
During 2017 the ETI will be releasing technical data and reports from projects delivered across its technology programmes over the last 10 years.
It has just released over 70 documents on its website from its Smart Systems and Heat Programme now delivered by the Energy Systems Catapult which can be found here.