Management of electric heating through heat pumps: A 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. In view of climate change projections, and constantly changing market conditions and political regulatory frameworks, domestic heating technology assessments and cost-effective low-carbon heat planning strategies are critical for the design of long-term energy and environmental policies.
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 space heating and domestic hot water demands. 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.
Empirically based domestic heat load profiles are 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. This study aims to better understand heat consumption in domestic buildings through analysing empirical data from a large group of dwellings and evaluate the role of heat pumps and district heating 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 models, in order to further explore their comparative advantages from different perspectives, including technical performance, carbon emissions, and financial practicability.
Robert Lowe, Francis Li, Jenny Love