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Why remote diagnostics should be on top of the agenda for any heating company

There are over 75M boilers installed in Western Europe today, and the annual boiler installation market accounts for around €8B. Out of all the boilers installed, around a quarter have a maintenance and/or repair contract, giving a market value of around €2B, excluding all the replacement parts and uncontracted repairs or maintenance.

Connectivity and digitalisation of boilers will transform this market and reshuffle the cards between all the players. It will take time, but signs of this transformation are already visible, with giant heating servicing companies like British Gas and Engie Home Services betting on connectivity to enable remote monitoring and diagnostics of their boilers.

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"Fleets are one of the most exciting customer groups in 2019"

Alex Lewis-Jones, EVs & Electricity research manager

With electric vehicles making an increasing impact at the forefront of the energy transition, it makes sense to consider the impact of electric vehicle fleets and the value chain of fleet EV charging that businesses can take advantage of. In advance of the team’s upcoming webinar, we spoke to Delta-ee electric vehicle expert Alex Lewis-Jones to learn more about this research.

How do you define a fleet?

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Addressing the rural challenge - electrifying off-gas grid heating

Towards the end of 2018, my colleagues and I finished working on a project for the UK Department for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) looking into the ‘Technical Feasibility of Electric Heating in Rural Off-Gas Grid Dwellings’. This was an important project examining the often forgotten off-gas grid sector. The results from this work helped inform BEIS’ response to the call for evidence on the future framework for heat in buildings.

Why off-gas grid homes?

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Hydrogen – best for your heat, or for your fleet?

The potential for hydrogen is emerging

There is a range of stakeholders across the energy landscape looking at hydrogen through a new lens. Why the fuss? Simply put, hydrogen has the potential to help us solve some of the most pressing energy challenges in the decades to come. However, the timeline is important, therefore ‘decades’ is the key word here, as it is unlikely that pure hydrogen will be flowing through the gas mains or into your car in the next few months or even the next few years. But there is huge potential. Hydrogen is an energy vector that can be used for a range of heat, transport and power generation applications. See Cate Lyon’s blog for more on hydrogen and its relation to domestic heat here. The big question is where can it best be used?

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Driving energy efficiency with smart meter data

It’s fantastic to see BEIS (the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy) launching their Smart Energy Savings (SENS) Innovation Competition, a £6.25 million innovative competition to drive residential energy efficiency in the UK using smart meter data. 

Energy retailers have historically used a variety of old-school techniques to help their residential customers reduce energy consumption. These include reactive initiatives like nPower’s energy efficiency helpline, or proactive like E.ON’s energy use quiz, or an email newsletter containing generic energy efficiency advice like The Source from British Gas, or outbound phone energy efficiency campaigns.

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Decarbonised Heating and Cooling: Don’t forget the customer

Image from Decarb Heat

Slowly, but very surely, the EU is getting us used to the idea of a fully decarbonised heating and cooling sector across Europe. It’s a bold and necessary objective which has profound implications for companies right across the energy sector. 

But is the European Commission going about it the right way?  

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Integrating gas and electricity vectors in future energy scenarios with the 2050 Energy Pathfinder Model

Delta-ee recently supported Wales & West Utilities’ strategic work looking into the future role of gas in the UK as part of an integrated cross-vector energy system. We helped Wales &West Utilities develop a new generation of their 2050 Energy Pathfinder Model that assesses the impact of different future energy mixes on the balance of electricity and gas supply and demand for any size population in the UK. The main objectives of the rebuild were to critically review the methodology and assumptions, streamline the model methodology, and improve the model’s user interface.

The model simulates hourly supply and demand profiles for gas and electricity across a defined region for a sample year. Together with existing sources and demands, new sources such as tidal barrage, and demands such as EVs are included, alongside fuel switching between the electricity and gas vectors (for example, using hybrid heat pumps). This enables a range of storage, demand response and new technology innovations to be simulated. The model outputs the following results:

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2018-2019: The pivotal years for New Energy

Delta-ee may have been early to the conversation. We started talking 10-15 years ago about decentralised energy, customers not meter points; who has needs, wants and preferences, services beyond commodity. These dynamics have now firmly moved from being on the periphery of the debate to front and centre. Most companies now recognise the direction in which the market is heading, and it seems like we are approaching the cusp of change.

Developing the right strategy and tactics is however challenging – exciting, but challenging.

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Will Energy-as-a-Service kill the kilowatt-hour?

Last Thursday I attended the UK’s 2018 Heat and Decentralised Energy Conference. There were several exciting sessions on policy, technology, infrastructure and customers – reflecting a market that is starting to see a lot of change and disruption. Tim Rotheray, Director of the Association for Decentralised Energy, gave what I thought was an especially interesting talk on why he believes the time for Energy-as-a-Service (EaaS) has finally come.

Whether Energy-as-a-Service will lead to the death of the kilowatt-hour, as Tim suggested, has been a topic of debate within Delta-ee. We agree that customer culture is certainly changing. The trend from product and commodity towards services and outcomes is emerging across multiple industries. Customers will pay for services’ outcomes (such as comfort or mobility) rather than products and commodities (such as fuel). Just look at car leasing, music streaming and even clothing rental.

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Hydrogen and hybrid heat pumps: the key pieces in the decarbonisation puzzle?

There is a strong potential future for hydrogen as a means to decarbonise heat, according to the reports published by the UK’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC) on 22nd November. Hydrogen is painted as one of the three key solutions (alongside electrification and improved energy efficiency) which will help the UK both decarbonise heat and create more energy system flexibility. This supports Delta-ee’s view that the best route to decarbonisation of heating is likely to be a ‘balanced transition’ across a mix of technologies and fuels.

As our Gas Heating Service highlighted recently, the UK is already one the most active countries in Europe regarding the development of hydrogen for heating: see projects including H21, Hy4Heat, HyNet, HyDeploy and H100. This latest report by the CCC only strengthens the argument that hydrogen could play a key role in heat, as well as in other sectors like transport and industrial processes.

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