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Hydrogen versus electrification

It is a sad indictment of humankind that we always seem to feel the need for an adversarial approach to life, particularly when it includes the future of our planet.   

We all recognise that there is an urgent need to develop a sustainable energy system, no longer dependent on finite fossil fuels. Given that, one might imagine that we would all be seeking the optimum solutions for each and every energy need, instead of insisting that our personally preferred technology should be used for every application.   

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The New Energy Letter: November 2020

Since our last new energy letter, the European Commission has published its long-awaited Renovation Wave Strategy, revealing of the extent of Europe’s decarbonisation ambitions in existing buildings – arguably the most challenging sector to decarbonise. The renovation wave strategy is making ripples, which could become a tidal wave of transformation for our existing building stock, with energy efficiency and the uptake of low carbon heating standing to make vast gains.

But this scale of change will only be unlocked if the market is swept along too – if member states follow through on the strategy recommendations, and if private investment is unlocked at the scale envisaged. So which parts of the renovation wave strategy give me something to be optimistic about?

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Blockchain for Local Energy Systems: is it really going to change the world?

Delta-EE has been looking at blockchain for a while now but, despite the hype, has so far found little evidence that it is making any significant contribution to new energy.  

So why is there so much hype around blockchain?

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Regulation and policy critical to the future of new energy

Delta-EE Director Jon Slowe was recently joined by representatives from the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP) to discuss the role of policy and regulation in the energy transition.

Regulation and policy play a critical role, both with competitive networks and markets, but they were typically built around old energy. There is now a need to evolve, facilitate and lead the way to new energy.

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MoneySavingExpert has over 4.5m members in its Energy Club, but will customers ever convert to auto-switching?

Here at Delta-EE, we have been talking about auto-switching as an important, emerging trend for a very long time.  As long ago as May 2017, my colleague Jenny Carson posed the question, “Is the energy industry underestimating its potential to mix things up?”, noting in passing the added appeal of completely free variants of the concept, based on Delta-EE’s own customer research.

The lingering doubt, as with any innovation, was whether it would all just prove to be a passing fad. By the time we revisited the topic in late 2018, we had, however, identified no fewer than 20 auto-switchers across the globe, which suggested, if nothing else, that a lot of entrepreneurs thought it was just as promising an idea as we did.  But the uncertainty remained, with few of the major price comparison sites climbing on board, and some of the first auto-switch companies, such as Voltz (UK) and Wechselfuchs (DE), disappearing almost as quickly as they had first appeared. 

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How much cheaper is it to run an EV? And, should I get an EV tariff?

One of the most cited benefits of switching to an EV is that ‘the running costs of an EV are significantly cheaper than an ICE vehicle’, but how much cheaper is it really? Evidently this is something which is very hard to quantify. To add to this difficulty, electricity suppliers across Europe are building lucrative promotions to win more and more EV owner customers. Will the typical EV owner save money by switching to an EV tariff?

At Delta-EE we believe these are two questions which need some attention. So, in this blog – and in recognition of the inaugural World EV Day – I want to share the results from the EV team’s latest analysis – a deep dive into the costs of home EV charging across Europe.

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Localising the heating transition: A colourful example from Amsterdam

In this blog I want to share the example of the city of Amsterdam to highlight how successfully decarbonising heat will mean using a range of technologies & energy vectors, targeted based on a local approach to planning. Thus far in the heating transition this approach has been far from the norm, but it looks like things could be starting to change.

An orange blueprint to make heating green

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What 13 years at the heart of the heating transition has taught me about the future

It’s almost 13 years since I first immersed myself in understanding the heating market, and began supporting Europe’s biggest energy suppliers and HVAC companies in navigating the heating transition. 2020 seems like a good time to reflect on what’s changed since then and consider what the next decade could bring. 

Thirteen years ago I had just completed a PhD quantifying the impact of climate change on Icelandic glaciers – and predicting how these impacts would play out in future decades.  The impact of continued warming – and the need for urgent action to stop it – was painfully clear.  This desire to solve the climate crisis was of course what drove me to the energy industry.  The science of climate change was clear – now to tackle action and adaptation.  I focused in very quickly on heat, as one of the most critical (if most challenging) parts of energy consumption to decarbonise.

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The New Energy Letter: August 2020

Since our last new energy letter, the shift in focus has moved from the impact of the Covid-19 crisis, to how we recover – and how “green” this recovery is. I have growing confidence that the recovery will drive acceleration in some aspects of the energy transition. There will of course be major economic challenges ahead, and the energy sector is not immune to these - but the fundamental drivers of the energy transition remain unchanged. It is encouraging to see signs of a commitment to “building back better – and greener” from Brussels and in some European capitals. The decisions being made now will determine the speed and nature of the energy transition over the years and decades ahead – and as such, influence business models, strategies and opportunities for companies in new energy.

The most detailed glimpse so far of just what this recovery will look like, was revealed in the European Commission’s Recovery Plan to “repair and prepare for the next generation” – which sets aside €750bn for a Green Recovery (plus longer-term budget reinforcements). It clearly signals that this recovery should be clean, circular, competitive and climate neutral. So what does this mean for new energy? Five points catch my interest, which create fantastic opportunities for the energy industry, if it is ready to capture them.

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Can heat pumps ever be “sexy like a Tesla”?

In discussions about decarbonising heat, we often hear people lament that heating just isn't "sexy" enough. A few months ago I was at an event where one of the UK environmental NGOs complained to a room of heating industry professionals that heat pumps are "bl**dy ugly", and don't really offer anything over gas boilers in terms of delivering comfort. Why can't we learn from the likes of Tesla or Apple, they asked, and make a product that offers a superior user experience and looks alright outside our homes?

This got me thinking about how comparable heat pumps are to electric vehicles, and to Teslas in particular. So I looked into the stats, asked the HVAC manufacturers what they thought, and debated the topic with my colleagues. There are certainly some lessons I think we can take from EVs, but there are also fundamental differences between heating and vehicles that we shouldn’t forget. In my view, all this talk of “making heat sexy” is a generally unhelpful distraction from the challenges we really need to address. Here’s why.

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