Heat pumps for domestic heating: A techno-economic exploration of comparative advantages of individual scale versus district level.
Zack (Zhikun Wang), UCL Energy Institute
Heating is the most important component of the UK’s current residential energy consumption. It is mostly supplied through the direct burning of natural gas. In view of constantly changing market conditions and political regulatory frameworks, domestic heating technology assessments and cost-effective low-carbon heat planning strategies are critical for meeting the demand while decarbonising the domestic heating. A thorough understanding of heat demand is essential for evaluating strategic options to design, plan, and implement future heat supply technologies. Nevertheless, there is a lack of empirical investigations that quantify aggregated domestic heat consumption and peak demand while considering the diversity effect, and very few studies have investigated domestic heat load profiles or their aggregation.
Electric heat pumps and decarbonised electricity have been proposed as promising technologies that could replace gas heating and contribute to the future low-carbon heat mix. District heating networks have been transformed over several generations to better use renewable energy sources rather than fossil fuels to meet heat demand. Both technologies are well developed in some European countries over the past few decades, as a result of a significant amount of scientific research and industrial experience. However, the markets of heat pumps and district heating networks are immature in the UK, and there are technical, social, and economic factors that present challenges for their deployment.
This study offers a better understanding of heat consumption in domestic buildings through analysing smart meter data on a large scale and evaluate the role of heat pumps by assessing the topological configurations of heat pumps and district heating networks for various types of dwellings at different scales. This study investigates heat pumps in individual households versus district heating networks through techno-economic modelling, to further explore their comparative advantages from different perspectives, including technical trade-offs, carbon emissions, and cost competitiveness.
Robert Lowe, Francis Li, Jenny Love