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Decarbonising the energy system - Empowering consumers to become part of the solution

Ambitious EU targets for substantially decarbonising the energy system by 2050 are heavily dependent on almost total decarbonisation of electricity production, generally considered one of the “easier” sectors and one which has demonstrated significant and sustained carbon reductions since 1990.

It is then assumed that more challenging sectors, such as heat and transport, can be decarbonised by using low or zero carbon electricity to displace conventional, fossil fuels.  Notwithstanding the technical constraints in end-use technologies, this does at first sight appear to be a rational approach.

There is, however, perhaps a risk that simply transferring the burden from other sectors, which face more severe technical challenges, may result in disproportionate costs in the electricity sector and costlier overall system investments.

If we are to achieve an optimal system design, it is important to consider sector coupling; this will include synergies between, for example, the energy storage potential of electric vehicles and peak electrical demands for electric heat pumps but will also need to consider how (lower carbon) gas technologies can either displace peak electric heat demand or, better still, generate electricity as a by-product of heat during those periods.  One technology which can help in this area is micro CHP which burns gas to produce heat for the home in which it is installed, but also simultaneously generates electricity which can support the increased demand for electricity to power heat pumps exactly when it is most needed.

It will also be necessary to consider how consumers can be empowered to become part of the solution by investing in appropriate microgeneration technologies which support the overall energy system.  

Delta’s analysis has clearly shown the economic benefits of engaging consumers to deliver a balanced transition to a sustainable energy system, rather than imposing a dogmatic, top down approach.

 

by Jeremy Harrison

www.delta-ee.com

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Wednesday, 26 June 2019

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