Page 58 - European Energy Innovation - Autumn 2016 publication
P. 58

58           Autumn 2016 European Energy Innovation


Table 1: Summary cost and impact assessments for Urban/suburban properties

Cost/impact        Hydrogen                                   Electrification/heat pump  District Heating

Heat supply


Consumer premises

Source: Red = highest cost/impact Green = lowest cost/impact

solid walls though home heating will            would be costly and disruptive for     options and these are summarised
still be required. A recent study from          consumers and may only be feasible     in table 1. It is clear that that there
Imperial College has looked at the cost         for less densely populated areas.      is no single solution and due to the
and effectiveness of three potential                                                   diversity in housing densities and types
solutions to decarbonising heat:            •	 District heating (DH) which would       approaches should be tailored to suit
                                                require the development of a new       local circumstances.
•	 Convert gas distribution networks            network to distribute centrally
    to hydrogen – this is technically           generated heat to consumer             Equally important will be establishing
    feasible due to high proportion of          premises. This is a popular approach   an appropriate strategic and regulatory
    polyethylene pipe in the distribution       in a number of European cities but     framework to facilitate an effective
    network. Existing gas storage               is not a low carbon solution unless    “system of governance for heat”. This
    facilities could be utilised though         the DH plant is itself low carbon.     should include a detailed assessment
    the much lower calorific value of           Installing a new heat network in       of the risks and issues associated with
    hydrogen presents some major                a built up environment would be        transitioning away from natural gas.
    challenges. Consumers may need              hugely disruptive and expensive.       The existing networks and associated
    to change appliances but disruption         Perhaps even more problematically      infrastructure such as storage and
    would be relatively minor. The              it could prove very difficult to get   interconnectors are likely to continue
    biggest challenge is developing             individual consumers to sign up to     to have a role even if it is not in
    a low cost, large scale source of           the new system without some form       transporting natural gas. Declining
    hydrogen. The two options looked            of compulsion which in itself may be   gas throughput during a transition
    were electrolysis of water or the           politically unacceptable. DH using     could, however, result in disinvestment
    reformation of natural gas. The latter      low carbon sources such as heat        in key infrastructure happening in
    would produce CO2 so would also             pumps could have a role in new         a haphazard and uncoordinated
    need to employ carbon capture               build developments particularly with   manner. Cooperation between network
    and storage (CCS). Both options             a large “anchor tenant’ to underwrite  operators, energy suppliers and the
    are technically unproven and very           a long term commitment.                regulator will be essential. This may
    expensive.                                                                         require radical rethinking of both the
                                            Other sources such as biomass, solar       network’s regulatory regime as well as
•	 Direct electrification of heating        and geo-thermal could also play a          the competitive energy supply market.
    using low carbon sources of             limited role but do not, under present
    power generation coupled, where         technologies, present a scalable           In the words of the Chinese proverb - a
    necessary, with heat pumps located      solution. Transitional approaches such     journey of a thousand miles starts with
    on consumer premises. This may be       as hybrid heat pumps could also be         a single step. This journey is likely to
    an effective option in well insulated,  adopted but they do not provide an         require a number of single steps before
    multi-occupancy buildings but           enduring low carbon solution.              a clear route, or more likely routes,
    significant investments in electricity                                             is identified. These steps need to be
    network capacity are likely to be       The Imperial study has looked at           made soon if the 2050 low carbon
    required. Installation of heat pumps    the applicability of these different       objectives are to be met. l

   53   54   55   56   57   58   59   60