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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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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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Do gas boilers still have a role to play in Dutch new build homes?

Many in the heating industry are looking with interest at the developing situation in the Netherlands, where a series of earthquakes in the north of the country caused by over-extraction from the Groningen gas field have led to a groundswell of cross-sector support for the idea of reducing – or even entirely removing – the use of Dutch natural gas.

There are a number of policies and supporting mechanisms in place to encourage the move away from natural gas as a fuel for heating homes. The latest has been a well-publicised change to the Dutch Law regulating the gas network operators (‘The Gas Law’).

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Roundtable brings key players together to consider the outlook for Europe’s gas heating sector

As part of our recent European Heat Summit held in Berlin, our Gas Heating Service team hosted a unique invitation-only roundtable to discuss and debate the top issues and opportunities facing suppliers of high efficiency gas heating systems like micro-CHP, fuel cells, and gas-fuelled heat pumps.

We heard from a wide range of speakers, from industry associations like COGEN Europe, to heating industry giants like Baxi and Vaillant, to specialist technology developers like Tennessee’s Stone Mountain Technologies Inc. and Sunfire from nearby Dresden.

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The role of gas in the future UK energy system

As the UK transitions to a new energy paradigm, incumbent players in the existing value chain, including gas network operators, face significant challenges to their current business models, and at Delta-ee we’re excited to help these companies to address these challenges.  

There are any number of proposals for a long-term energy system aimed at addressing the energy trilemma.  However, even where there is consensus as to the final shape of the energy system post 2050, there remains significant difference of opinion as to the most practical means of transitioning from today’s system to a fully sustainable one.

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Is the French market ready to switch to new gas technologies?

It’s a tough question to answer, but there is definitely a push toward more efficient gas technology in France, suggesting the country is ready for a switch. In our latest research as part of the Gas Heating Service, we covered this interesting market to find out about the evolving role of gas heating appliances in France.

The French market currently has an important share of gas heating (more than 40% of the dwelling stock) but it has not been a straight path. With the nuclear power programme for example, 70% of new homes built in the ‘70s received electric heating. Nowadays, gas heating represents more than 50% of new build. It’s clear gas has an important role and, from our latest research, we are certain of its future in the French market.

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