(721e) Trading Off the Costs and Benefits of Electric and Hydrogen Technologies in Decarbonising the Heat Sector: Whole-System Value Chain Optimisation

Penman, J. - Presenter, University of Bath
Samsatli, S., University of Bath
Space heating and cooling account for 17% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions whilst gas based central heating can be found in nearly 24 million homes in the UK, which is 86% of all residential buildings. In order to reach zero carbon emissions by 2050, as required by the Climate Change Act, these homes will need to switch to some form of low carbon heating. This task is very challenging because of the wide variety of building stock and infrastructure present throughout the UK.

Although a low carbon heating strategy is yet to be set by the UK government, electrification of heat, such as heat pumps and electric storage heating, is one of the main options. Contrasting these two technologies, heat pumps provide higher efficiency with lower electricity use and lower grid upgrade requirements, whilst electric storage heaters have lower equipment and installation costs and allow users access to off-peak electricity. The CO2 emissions associated with both technologies depend largely on the emissions of the electricity grid, although heat pumps use less electricity to provide the same amount of heat and so may be better placed to help the UK meet its carbon budget. Electrification of heat also needs to be compared with other low-carbon heating strategies, such as renewable hydrogen produced via power-to-gas technologies and injected into the gas grids.

In this study, a value chain optimisation of the UK energy system was conducted using the Value Web Model (VWM). The VWM is a mixed-integer linear programming model equipped to model the production, conversion, and transportation of energy, alongside the development of technologies and infrastructure to meet energy demands with high spatial and temporal resolutions. The aim of this study is to determine the role of different heating technologies in a carbon neutral energy system. The results from the whole-system value chain optimisation are discussed in terms of the costs and benefits of each of the heating strategy options with respect to the consumers and producers. The effects of different policy instruments such as feed-in-tariffs and renewable heat incentives will be discussed. This presentation will discuss future UK scenarios involving these technologies and the opportunities and uncertainties associated with each. The decarbonisation of heating is an important next step in the transition to net zero and this work will provide evidence regarding an effective long-term decarbonisation strategy for the UK.