Smart thermal storage could be used to reduce peak electricity demand on the coldest day of the year by 1.6GW by 2030, Thermal Storage UK outlined in a new report.
The report, titled ‘Flexibility for low carbon electric heating’, suggests that using low carbon electric heating could make the most of the abundant renewable energy generation that could be in place in the UK by 2030.
Alongside a reduction of 1.6GW by 2030 on the coldest day of the year, this peak demand reduction could increase to 4.1GW should the benefits of flexibility to electricity networks be reflected in pricing.
Smart thermal storage could also shift 17.64GWh of electricity across the coldest day, said Thermal Storage UK via analysis conducted by LCP Delta. Smart thermal storage can work with or instead of heat pumps.
“With the right system reforms, heat flexibility can support the UK to make the most of its abundant renewable power,” said Tom Lowe, founding director of Thermal Storage UK.
“To achieve this, we need to ensure we design heating systems to provide warmth to people and flexibility to the network. Smart thermal stores can deliver comfort, reduce peak power demand, lower carbon emissions and improve security of supply. Low carbon electric heating is a growth opportunity in the UK and an export opportunity for British companies.”
To ensure smart thermal storage can be maximised in the UK’s renewable capacity, the report has outlined a total of 16 recommendations. This includes calling on the government and National Grid ESO to develop publicly available whole system modelling that can consider local network constraints, distributed energy assets and the increase in renewables.
Scotland continues to see the potential in thermal storage as a means to decarbonise households during the winter months. In August, Scotland became the “first country in the world” to offer an interest-free loan for homeowners to install heat batteries, according to thermal storage company Sunamp.
The government-backed Home Energy Scotland Loan scheme provides homeowners with an opportunity to incorporate renewable heat systems into their homes.
It is designed to provide an interest-free loan of up to £6,000 that can be secured by private landlords and homeowners who wish to decarbonise their properties and homes by installing heat batteries.
To spark innovation with the technology, the Scottish government, SP Energy Networks and Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) Distribution launched a new heat pump and thermal storage trial in the Highlands, at the start of 2022.
Project Re-Heat explores how operators can react to high electricity demand caused by decarbonised heating systems, using the flexibility of heat pumps and storage to benefit the network.
For the project, smart grid controls and smart heating management are being utilised by the distribution network operators (DNOs) to demonstrate technical solutions to reduce demand on the electricity network using the heating systems, and in doing so reduce or remove the need for traditional reinforcement.
A number of English-based developers have also been exploring electrified heating to both cater for the rising demand in heating costs and reduce carbon emissions from homes. UK Power Networks (UKPN) is one firm that has been exploring this. In early 2021, UKPN set out a roadmap for electrified heating through a trial in Sussex village Barcombe.
The CommuniHeat project involves over 600 households and, with a duration of two years, is aiming to understand how the village and similar communities can switch to low carbon heating using electricity.
Energy meters have also been installed in the village, with data gathered to offer new insights into how residents currently use energy. With this information, UKPN will be able to run advanced simulations for different approaches to installing low carbon electrical heating.