Management of electric heating through heat pumps: systematic exploration of comparative advantages of individual scale versus district level
Zack (Zhikun Wang), UCL Energy Institute
What are the economic and environmental advantages or disadvantages of integrating heat pumps with district heating for the UK’s domestic heating sector through different topologies: individual, district level, both, or neither?
The UK has set ambitious targets to reduce carbon emissions, improve energy efficiency and affordability, encourage renewable energy generation, and reduce dependency on imported fossil fuels. Heating is the most important component of the UK’s current residential energy consumption, and is mostly supplied through the direct burning of natural gas. With constantly changing market conditions and political regulatory frameworks, technology assessments and cost-effective planning strategies are critical for long-term energy and environmental policy designing.
Electric heat pumps and decarbonised electricity are proposed as promising technologies that could replace gas heating and contribute to the future low-carbon heat mix. District heating networks have been transforming from fossil fuel-based to renewable-based energy over several generations to meet space heating and domestic hot water demand. Both technologies have been well developed, with abundant scientific research and industrial experiences in some European countries over the past few decades. However, the market shares of heat pumps and district heating networks are low in the UK, and there are technical, social, and economic challenges for their deployment.
The aim of this project is to better understand heat consumptions in domestic buildings and the role of heat pumps and district heating by assessing the topological configurations of heat pumps, district heating networks, and thermal storage solutions for various types of buildings on different scales. This study investigates heat pumps in individual households versus district heating networks through techno-economic models, in order to further explore their comparative advantages based on different aspects, including technical performance, carbon emissions, financial practicability, and policy uncertainties.
Robert Lowe, Francis Li, Jenny Love