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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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COP21 ambitions can only be delivered by market disruptions in residential heating markets

Delta-ee forecasts of the residential heating sector by our Roadmap Research Service have highlighted that four of the largest heating markets in Europe are not on track to contribute fully to carbon emission reduction targets. Germany and the UK will miss their notional residential emission reduction target by ~20%, with the shortfall for Italy and the Netherlands closer to 40%. This is based on our Roadmap analysis that takes into account current trends in policy, techno-economics, energy efficiency and customer behaviour. France is the only major country ahead of its target, benefitting from the large proportion of nuclear in its energy mix (note - emissions from electric heating are not included in this analysis*).

Why is this important? With COP21 underway in Paris, there has never been a clearer time for governments to consider how they will meet their climate change objectives. Decarbonising heat is increasingly central to the challenge, but our analysis highlights that market disruptions and policy are yet to make a big impact.

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