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LCNI Conference 2019: the DNOs leading the way

Keynote speech at LCNI 2019

Last week Delta-EE attended the 2019 Low Carbon Network Innovation conference in Glasgow. It was a great opportunity to learn more about the range of innovation projects DNOs are currently developing and to discuss our transition to a low-carbon energy system.  

The growth of distributed renewable energy is widely regarded as a positive step towards the UK meeting its 2050 net-zero climate target. However, whilst this goal is necessary there is no escaping the challenges it presents for the electricity networks. Distribution networks in the UK are being required to accommodate ever increasing amounts of intermittent renewable generation such as solar PV, and wind. At the same time, they have been called upon to support the electrification of heat and transport with rapidly increasing demand for EV charging and heat pumps. Both present challenges.  

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Edinburgh Science Festival's 'Ecoville' shows a snapshot of a low carbon future

During the rush of the Easter bank holiday weekend, I stumbled across the Edinburgh International Science Festival’s Ecoville. Nestled neatly on The Mound next to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, this EDF Energy-sponsored event is in prime position to catch the eye of passers-by.

So, what is Ecoville all about?

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Power-Gen Europe 2017 – out with the old, in with the new

Power-Gen Europe, held in Cologne last week, has for decades been an annual ‘must attend’ fixture for the conventional power generation industry. Everyone in the sector has been there, and the big centralised power players competed at a monumental scale for stand size, profile and ‘wow factor’.

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An urgent challenge for the heating industry

The replacement rate of older, less efficient heating technology is an urgent challenge for industry. Our upcoming European Heat Summit is the perfect place to discuss solutions.

The EU 2050 Low Carbon Roadmap requires a 90% reduction in carbon emissions from houses and office buildings by 2050. Over half of the currently installed heaters in Europe are old and inefficient: a base of 80 million (EHI, 2015). The current rate of replacement of these systems is approximately 4%, at about 3 million a year. This is not fast enough.

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Why Italy favours gas for heating

Even though Italy can boast that it is gearing up to implement Europe’s strong RES directive regulations sooner than other countries (a step that will improve prospects for low carbon technologies in the new build sector) – our Roadmap Service research indicates that this is merely the silver lining on a very foreboding cloud. Many other important factors fail to support decarbonising the residential heating sector in Italy.

Cracking the retrofit sector remains the key challenge, and we believe that gas based low carbon technologies represent the most promising solution. Market dynamics strongly favour gas, especially in the short to medium term:

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Low carbon heating market in Europe to see a four-fold growth in annual sales by 2025

In my previous blogs & webinars, I discussed the outlook for low carbon heating appliances in five of Europe’s largest heating markets – Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK – comparing and contrasting the opportunities in these markets.

Summing up the analysis from our Roadmap Service across all five countries, ‘gas boiler only’ sales fall by more than 800,000 units per year in the next decade. That’s equivalent to the entire Italian gas boiler market disappearing, or a 22% fall in market size across these five countries.

In the same time frame, the low carbon heating market across these countries will grow four-fold to just over 1.5 million units per year (almost the same size as the UK heating appliance market!).

Below are two interesting charts I’ve generated from analysis across all five markets:

Low carbon technology sales forecasts per country




France – narrowly – offers the best prospects for low carbon appliance sales by 2025. It has by some way the biggest new build market in Europe (~300,000 new dwellings per year) and strict building regulations (RT 2012) forcing a shift towards low carbon.

Breaking down the growth in low carbon technology sales, by technology

Annual sales of low carbon appliances will grow by ~1.1 million units per year by 2025 – with more than ten technologies fighting for a slice of the pie.




Across the five markets, ‘gas boiler plus’ solutions (this is a boiler in combination with solar thermal, solar PV or a hot water heat pump) captures the biggest share of this opportunity – just less than one quarter of the growth in the low carbon market. But there are three other key technologies hot on its heels, each grabbing a 15 – 20% slice of the growth in sales.

So, lots of change on the horizon and varying levels of engagement with low carbon among the appliance manufacturers. Some are being more cautious than others, but it’s too early to call which approach will win. A few examples of what we are seeing today are:
  1. Viessmann already offers air source and ground source heat pumps & is planning on introducing a fuel cell offering in Germany in 2015. It also announced recently plans to open the ‘largest technical centre of its kind’ in 2017 for developing new technologies.
  2. Vaillant has added air source, ground source and hybrid heat pump offerings to its portfolio in recent years.
  3. Daikin launched a hybrid heat pump offering in Europe in 2014.
What’s next?

In an upcoming webinar in December 2014, we’ll explore in more depth the opportunity for low carbon sales in Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK, highlighting which markets are most attractive and which technologies offer the best hopes for growing new sales.

To register an interest in this webinar, please email info@delta-ee.com.

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