In this STA Blog, Richard Hall of Energy Transitions details a number of challenges for the UK’s clean heat sector and outlines some exciting EU funding opportunities available. The provision of affordable, decarbonised heat is a major global challenge; one for which current and future renewable energy technologies have a great deal of potential to fulfil. Yet the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that global renewable heat consumption in 2017 amounted to 472Mtoe (million tonnes of oil equivalent). This represents just 9% (approximately) of the total global heat demand. Within the UK, heat is largely generated through the burning of natural gas and a recent report by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) highlighted the “formidable challenge” of replacing the UK’s natural gas grid with renewable energy. Over the winter of 2017/18, the peak daily demand for natural gas was 3.6 times higher than that for electricity. In addition, the 3-hour difference in demand for natural gas was 116 GW, compared with only 11 GW for electricity; highlighting the variability in gas demand across the day. In the past, active solar heating has been dominated by residential solar thermal water heating systems, used for domestic hot water production. The largest deployment of these has been in the form of the thermosyphon systems installed in China (Solar Heat Worldwide, 2018). But with urbanisation, digitalisation and the rapidly lowering cost of renewable electricity generation technologies, the solar heat industry is changing rapidly. Two notable trends are in the increase in the use of Solar District Heating and Digital Heat.
STA 12th Oct 2018 read more »