Electricity network constraints and the 2024 New Build Heat Standard: research

Research looking into the network constraints issues associated with the electrification of heat for domestic new build developments. The focus of the work was on connection costs for these developments, how the cost is defined, and apportioned to the relevant stakeholder.

A4 Innovative project summaries

A4.1 Spatial Analysis of Future Electric Heat Demand (SAFEHD)

This project aims to develop and apply methods to explore optimal decarbonisation pathways to determine likely future heating technology mixes against a backdrop of policy, cost and demand uncertainties [11]. The first package is split into three phases:

1. A geospatial analysis that will generate high spatial resolution heat energy demand estimates based on actual energy consumption data and investigate how these heat demands relate to type of heating system, dwelling characteristics and social demographics. It will also characterise households by their behaviour and attitudes towards alternative heating technology uptake.

2. Development of the SAFE-HD agent-based model and explore the spatial distributions of future electric heat demand under uncertainty.

3. To conduct a network impact assessment with the aim of identifying least regret network investment options required. As well as to provide recommendations as to how the tools and methods developed for the SAFE-HD project can be used by all DNOs.

The second package of the project will extrapolate individual low carbon technologies effect on ADMD and assess the impact of heat pumps and electric water heating in off gas grid areas.

A4.2 Heat street

Heat Street is a year-long research project that aims to develop an approach to forecasting adoption of energy efficiency measures and low carbon heating solutions [12]. The project will also carry out a zoning assessment to gain insight on what areas may be particularly well-suited to electrifying their heating needs. Criteria such as regulatory considerations, geospatial, fairness, practicality and speed will be included in the assessment. The objectives of the project are to:

  • Collate existing information in a way which is useful for energy networks to progress their thinking on the decarbonisation of heat;
  • Develop understanding of trends and dependencies for energy efficiency and low carbon heating implementation; and
  • Develop and conduct a zoning assessment with input from stakeholders to understand how to identify where customers will benefit most from installing electric heating solutions.

A4.3 Regional Energy System Optimisation Planning (RESOP)

SSEN and Dundee City Council partnered to develop a whole system planning tool that incorporates the net-zero objectives of local councils whilst assessing the impact of those plans and the technologies they use on the local electricity network [13]. It was built after a decision from SSE's Greenprint to empower the energy transition through the deployment of Local Area Energy Plans (LAEPs). The model that is developed over the course of the project will seek to optimise outputs for local stakeholders, who will be trained in use of the model to help inform their decision making.

A4.4 Electrification of Heat Demonstration Projects

This project aimed to demonstrate the feasibility of large-scale roll-out of heat pumps in GB by installing innovative heat pumps in a representative range of 750 homes, together with new products and services designed to overcome some of the barriers to deployment [14]. The programme is supporting three delivery contractors to conduct the trials and has the following objectives:

  • Develop, test and evaluate innovative products and services that increase the appeal of heat pumps and identify optimal solutions for a wide range of homes;
  • Demonstrate that heat pumps, including gas-electric hybrids, can deliver high consumer satisfaction across a wide range of consumers in GB;
  • Demonstrate the practical and technical feasibility of heat pumps, including gas-electric hybrids, across GB's diverse housing stock; and
  • Capture learning from the project to help improve awareness across the heating supply chain, raise acceptance and support wider deployment of heat pumps in GB.

A4.5 Flexible Residential Energy Efficiency Demand Optimisation and Management (Freedom)

Western Power Distribution ran the Freedom project for 27 months to investigate the feasibility of the use of hybrid heat pumps on their network [15]. The research objective is to better understand how hybrid heating systems can be:

  • Affordable through using advanced algorithms to unlock value from energy markets;
  • Trustworthy by building consumer trust in new technology whilst providing the same level of comfort in people's homes; and
  • Developing appropriate user interfaces and information systems to help drive adoption.

75 smart heating hybrid pilot installations were rolled out amongst trial properties before beginning a year-long monitoring and experimentation phase to iteratively refine the heating and load management processes.

As a result of the work delivered in the Freedom project, hybrid heating systems demonstrated that they are a complementary solution across the various futures of heat pathways, providing the opportunity for partial electrification combined with hydrogen in major cities and other decarbonised gas elsewhere.

A4.6 Cold Start

UK Power Networks are aware that the electrification of transport and heat will have large impacts on the electricity grid. Reinforcing the grid to meet the needs of the demand will be to provide technical challenges, one of which will be the consumer behaviours during restoration of power after an extended outage. With widespread adoption of electric heating and vehicles, the restoration of power after an extended period will have the added challenge of needing to heat buildings and charge EVs.

Using the Energy System Catapult's EnergyPath Operations tool, the project will build a network simulation model of an area of the electricity network to assess how energy demand responds following a cold start [16]. The model will inform decisions and policy around cold starts and what future studies on technical applications and/or commercial solutions would assist in keeping power supplies reliable.

A4.7 4D Heat

This project explored whether controlling electrified residential heating in Scotland can be used to reduce the curtailment of renewable generation, without adversely impacting the distribution network [17].

The work focussed on Skye, an off-gas grid area in northern Scotland with high proportions of electrified residential heating, and homes with potential to switch to electric heating. It's estimated there are currently around 380,000 such homes in Scotland which could move to a range of electric heating solutions, from storage heaters to air or ground source heat pumps, doing so would take advantage of surplus wind power. The projects objectives were to:

  • Analyse how well DNO and ESO constraints match with available flexibility from electric heating
  • Conduct cost benefit analysis (CBA) to identify if this is cost effective, and how it scales up to all off-gas grids in Scotland.
  • Further excel-based techno-economic modelling will aim to calculate the cost benefit analysis of using the flexibility of domestic heating compared to traditional solutions to manage constraints (curtailing renewable generation and network reinforcement).

One of the key findings were that UK consumers could see financial benefits in the region of £26 million per year if their homes were heated with wind energy. The analysis found that 17% of curtailed wind could be absorbed by electric heating systems in 2020 and 9% in 2030. By 2030, some households could be saving 18% on their annual energy bill. It suggested as much as 540GWh of wind power could be absorbed by domestic heating across off-gas grid Scotland in 2030, saving £24 million per year in wind constraint payments.

A4.8 Northern Isles New Energy Solutions (NINES)

The NINES project in Shetland introduced methods to manage the distribution network more effectively [18]. The project is using large and small scale energy storage solutions combined with an active network management system to create a smart grid in Shetland. The project is providing more comfortable and affordable heating through installation of smart electric heating systems. Key aspects of the project include:

  • A 1MW battery to manage fluctuations in supply and demand
  • Replacing storage and water heaters in 1,000 homes with modern smart storage heaters
  • Adding an electric boiler to a district heating system associated with a local wind farm
  • Deploying technology that will allow small scale renewable generators to connect to the network

A4.9 Electrical Heat Pathways: Looking Beyond Heat Pumps

In the ongoing debate about future energy policy, there has been a presumption of any electrified heat pathway being based around the use of heat pumps. Despite being less efficient than heat pumps storage heaters can be the only option for vulnerable people or technically unsuitable properties. They are more commonly arriving to market with smart control systems that could be used by distribution network system operators as demand side response resources. Installers should have the required skills to deal with complex arrangements that allow the distribution network to determine the timing schedules for storage heaters in constrained areas that would otherwise need costly reinforcement. These signals are currently sent over what is known as the Radio-Teleswitch System (RTS) using the long wave radio infrastructure provided by the BBC. However, this is shortly due to be de-commissioned.

The report found that Ofgem and BEIS need to give proper consideration for the place of storage heaters in heat decarbonisation [19]. Policy should not inadvertently act as a barrier. Customers should be provided independent customer advice and support to make appropriate choices on low carbon heating solutions. SSEN will begin to develop commercial arrangements to properly reward the provision of flexibility and diversity provided by storage heaters through the RTS arrangements.

A4.10 Copenhagen district heating and cooling system

In Denmark in the city of Copenhagen, waste is burned to generate heat and that is used city wide to provide heat for 98% of homes in the city cleanly and cheaply [20]. Other methods of heat generation are:

  • Waste heat released from power stations and industrial processes;
  • Solar heating;
  • Large scale heat pumps;
  • bio-gasification of organic waste; and
  • geothermal energy.

The heat is transported via a water medium through a network of pipes across the city. This helps to save 200,000 tonnes of oil every year and thereby reduces 665,000 tonnes of CO2 released to the air.

Copenhagen aims to become the world's first CO2 neutral capital by 2025. District heating is the biggest contribution to reduce CO2 in the municipality. Since 2010, district cooling also contributes to reduce CO2 which potentially reduces the city's atmosphere of 80,000 tons of CO2. District cooling is done by circulating the seawater to the major companies in Copenhagen.

Denmark's heating and cooling industry is attracting global interest, as countries seek best practice in design and installation.

A4.11 Queens Quay district heating scheme

This district heating scheme project is based near Glasgow in Scotland and will provide heat to 1,200 homes as well as a health centre, a care home and businesses. It will use two 2.5MW water source heat pumps to extract heat from the River Clyde and transport it to locations of demand [10].

When the heat pumps generate excess heat, it will be stored in the thermal store and then released when needed. The two water source heat pumps will meet the majority of the networks design providing heat to the network at 75⁰C flow and 45⁰C return. During summer, one heat pump will be kept offline while the other is still running. Gas boilers with a combined capacity of 15 MW installed in the energy centre are used for a small percentage of the time to meet peak demand or as a backup option. This system will not produce carbon emissions or nitrogen dioxide emissions.

The river's temperatures throughout the year generally ranges from between 6-12⁰C.

A4.12 ENGIE harmony project with Enfield Council

This project focussed on ground source heat pumps providing heat to 400 flats in eight blocks across two estates in the London Borough of Enfield [21]. The flats are retrofitted with Kensa Shoebox heat pumps that extract heat from pipes that are distributed underground across 52 boreholes. Along with being climate friendly, the system is expected to save residents up to a third on their heating bills and the boreholes have a lifetime of 100 years.

A4.13 Other innovative approaches

Other innovative approaches are as follows with reference to Appendix A2:

  • The Maiden Hill site near Glasgow, where innovative tools were used to reduce the impact that zero emission heating in homes had on the connection costs.
  • CALA Homes are exploring the additional costs and implications of decarbonised heating options through three case study projects.
  • SPEN are producing an ADMD calculator, which can estimate the impact that different types of heating technologies have on their ADMD.


Email: 2024heatstandard@gov.scot

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