Comments Off on Calefacción con hidrógeno: revisión de la evidencia científica
La energía utilizada para la calefacción y refrigeración representa alrededor del 50% del consumo total de energía en el mundo. De esta cifra, casi la mitad se consume para calentar edificios. Y la mayor parte de la energía utilizada se obtiene de combustibles fósiles. Si bien las medidas de eficiencia energética en los edificios pueden contribuir enormemente a reducir las emisiones de la calefacción y la refrigeración, sigue habiendo una gran demanda de alternativas de calefacción con bajas o nulas emisiones de carbono.
Últimamente, los representantes de la industria del gas y la calefacción han promovido el hidrógeno verde como solución clave para sustituir al gas fósil en la red de distribución. Aunque hay muchos usos finales legítimos, actuales y futuros, para el hidrógeno verde, ¿existen pruebas que justifiquen la calefacción de edificios con hidrógeno?
Este artículo analiza diversos análisis independientes sobre el uso del hidrógeno para calentar espacios interiores y para el uso de agua caliente. Se incluyen un total de 32 estudios realizados a escala internacional, regional, nacional, estatal y municipal por un amplio abanico de entidades, como universidades, institutos de investigación, organizaciones intergubernamentales y consultoras. Ninguno de los 32 estudios, mediante el análisis de las pruebas, avala el uso generalizado del hidrógeno para calefacción. Por el contrario, la investigación independiente existente hasta el momento sugiere que, en comparación con otras alternativas como las bombas de calor, la energía solar térmica y la calefacción urbana, el uso del hidrógeno para la calefacción doméstica es menos económico, menos eficiente, consume más recursos y está asociado a un mayor impacto medioambiental.
Comments Off on Clean heat standards: New tools for the fossil fuel phaseout in Europe
Europe is heavily reliant on fossil fuels in the heating sector. The EU has set itself a goal of deploying 30 million additional heat pumps by 2030. To advance the transition away from fossil fuels in the heating sector, the EU and its Member States have recently proposed or agreed on several heat-related policies. This includes an emissions trading scheme for greenhouse gases from heating and transport. The European Commission also announced that it will propose a revision of ecodesign rules for heating appliances, meaning a de facto ban on the sale of standalone fossil fuel boilers by 2029. Despite these positive actions, additional policy measures are needed to achieve rapid, effective and fair decarbonisation of heating.
This paper explores how novel policy tools called ‘clean heat standards’ could reinforce the EU framework for heat decarbonisation. Clean heat standards place a quantitative target on market actors, such as energy network companies, energy suppliers and manufacturers of heating equipment, to decarbonise heating and provide some flexibility in how to achieve it. This definition captures different tools, including some already discussed or in use in France, Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States. These tools can complement other clean transition policies, for instance appliance standards and bans can directly rule out certain technologies from the market, while clean heat standards could provide a positive target for market actors to meet.
Clean heat standards, coupled with complementary policies, can help accelerate the transition away from fossil fuel heating. RAP offers recommendations to help decision-makers make the most of these tools.
Comments Off on Climate Action is Energy Security: Recent Developments in the Power Sectors of India, China, and Europe
Significant progress has been made in the renewable energy sector, with wind and solar power making up a substantial portion of global power production, accounting for almost one-quarter of noncarbon-emitting generation. This is a considerable improvement from just a decade ago when they produced less than 1% of total global electricity. Furthermore, wind and solar power are now often the long term, least cost options, making them an attractive investment for countries looking to decarbonize their energy systems.
Despite the growing momentum towards renewable energy, global coal-fired generation still totaled a record high in 2021, up by 8.5% from the previous year. The lion’s share of CO2 emissions still come from countries committed to becoming net-zero carbon in the next few decades. Nonetheless, this article suggests that a decarbonized global power system is still possible and the transition can be achieved at a low cost while maintaining high levels of reliability.
To support this clean energy transition, the article discusses the power sector reforms that are currently underway in India, China and Europe. Despite their different institutions, history and power system setups, these regions share some common trends: they rely heavily on planning and recognize the value of demand-side resources. These regions offer promising pathways for power sector reform and they provide hope for a decarbonized energy future.
Comments Off on Turning off the gas: Stronger and coherent EU policy to accelerate the fossil gas phaseout
Rapidly phasing out fossil gas demand has become a top priority in Europe. Existing European legislation is expected to achieve only moderate reductions by 2030. The ongoing energy crisis has provided an opportunity to aim for even more extensive decreases in fossil gas demand. Legislation under negotiation, informed by the European Commission’s REPowerEU plan, is expected to go further, yet more ambitious targets and a unified policy approach could achieve potential reductions currently left on the table.
RAP’s analysis finds that even with full implementation of the REPowerEU plan, by 2030 natural gas demand in Europe will remain roughly equivalent to Russian gas imports in 2021. A stronger energy efficiency target in the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) and a higher renewable energy target in the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) could reduce gas demand and eliminate Russian gas imports.
Furthermore, the Hydrogen and Decarbonised Gas Market package should emphasize integrated planning and targeted applications of alternative gases to ensure its consistent with a fossil gas phaseout.
A joint, coherent policy approach — addressing more ambitious targets for the EED and the RED and complementary metrics applied to the Hydrogen and Decarbonised Gas Market package — would guarantee that fossil gas use is rapidly reduced and the infrastructure is in place to meet the remaining demand equitably and efficiently.
Comments Off on How the European Union incentivises inefficient renewable heating
The EU’s renewables directives count what fuel is burned for heating, as opposed to the amount of heat produced.
Never has the spotlight shone so brightly on Europe’s heating and cooling sector. And for a good reason. Fossil gas makes up around 39% of the energy used to heat buildings and much of Europe wants to rapidly phase it out.
To help do so, the European Parliament recently voted in favour of a key amendment to the Renewable Energy Directive (RED): raising the annual target for the share of renewable energy in heating and cooling.
The new goal—a 2.3 percentage-point increase each year until 2030—is roughly double the one proposed in the Fit-for-55 package unveiled in 2021.
The clear signal has been set, yet there is something off with the way the metric is measured. By counting fuel burned instead of heat produced and not including electricity used for heating or cooling, the RED favours inefficient technologies.
Ignoring the mushy peas on the floor
Imagine a toddler having lunch. Her father has prepared a bowl of 300 grams of mushy peas and figures that this meal should meet half of the two-year-old’s nutrient needs for the day. She is a messy eater though and jettisons around half of her food on the ground. Once her dad sees the empty plate, he pats himself on the back, thinking that he filled her belly. He should look at the floor.
Measuring the renewable share of heating and cooling in the RED is simple. It tallies all the energy used to heat and cool from renewable sources, then divides it by the total. The key question is: which energy counts as renewable?
Unfortunately, the RED’s answer to this is flawed. It only counts final energy use or, in other words, the fuel that is delivered to the customer to use in their heating appliance. That means if someone burns a log in a fireplace at 50% efficiency and it produces 100 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of heat, how much “renewable heat” does that account for?
If you were thinking “100 kWh” you would be wrong. The RED counts that as 200 kWh, since that is the energy content of the biomass that was combusted at 50% efficiency.
That is a big problem because heating systems have different efficiencies. An electric heat pump typically produces 100 kWh of heat with 33 kWh of input electricity. The remaining 67 kWh is drawn from the ambient air for free. An 85% efficient pellet boiler needs 117 kWh.
The point: Less efficient technologies need more input energy for the same useful heat outcome. The RED discourages switching to more efficient heating appliances and electrification. It counts the full weight of the mushy peas, not just those that were eaten.
The other problem with the RED methodology is its scope. It does not consider the renewable electricity used for heating and cooling at all. Whether it is used to drive a heat pump or just an electrical resistance heater, it does not count toward the renewable heating and cooling target. Even for cooling, which is virtually only based on electricity.
This is an effort to avoid double-counting. The data wranglers do not want to count renewable electricity in both the power sector and the heating and cooling sector. As a data wrangler myself, I appreciate their commitment to neat allocation. But in this case, neatness has its downside.
Electricity providing a heating or cooling service should be considered towards the renewable heating and cooling target. Otherwise, heat pumps could be undervalued in terms of their contributions. If the methodology does not even consider where the electricity comes from, the heat output of the heat pump can never be fully renewable.
If the renewable share of electricity would be considered in the RED’s methodology as a heating and cooling service, the incentive to promote heat pumps would even be stronger. Member States will thus be encouraged to implement policies that aim to achieve the heating and cooling target, with the ancillary benefit of growing the deployment of efficient heat pumps to do so.
As it stands, the least efficient and least electric technologies are those that have the most potential to meet the goals under the RED. More efficient and electricity-based heating appliances risk falling behind.
The way forward
Getting metrics right is crucial to ensuring a rapid and balanced transition to clean heating and cooling. The Renewable Energy Directive’s goal should be to promote efficient heating and cooling technologies that maximise useful energy while minimising input energy.
This means counting the useful heat that is produced by a heating system, not the input energy needed. It also means including the electricity used for renewable heating and cooling.
Since electricity realistically contributes to both the headline renewable energy target (32% in the RED II and voted to increase to 45% by the European Parliament), as well as the renewable heating and cooling target. Both calculations should factor it in so that the statistics are accurate.
Double-counting can be avoided by ignoring the electricity used in the heating and cooling sector when calculating the headline target.
Metrics matter. Only by counting the useful heat produced can the Renewable Energy Directive provide the right incentives for phasing out fossil gas and spurring the clean electrification of heat.
Comments Off on Metrics matter: Efficient renewable heating and cooling in the Renewable Energy Directive
The Renewable Energy Directive (RED), designed to help meet the EU’s ambitious 2030 and 2050 climate targets, sets targets for growing renewables usage for heating and cooling in the building sector. As currently written, however, the RED encourages inefficient uses of renewables in buildings to meet these goals.
In this paper, we suggest reforms to the RED would ensure a more efficient and balanced approach to renewable heating and cooling in the EU. It shows that the RED’s metric for determining the contribution of renewable heating and cooling tends to favour less efficient technologies. The paper also discusses how the use of electricity for heating and cooling is not accounted for in the RED definition of renewable heating and cooling, nor in the methodology for the renewable contribution of heat pumps.
By adapting the definition of renewable heating and cooling and updating the definition of renewable heat from heat pumps, the RED can provide a more comprehensive overview of the status of decarbonising the sector. We recommend the following policy adjustments:
Amend Article 7 (3) of the RED to calculate the useful energy produced instead of fuels consumed to produce it.
Mandate Eurostat to develop a consistent method for counting the amount of (renewable) electricity used for different services including heating and cooling, both in general and from heat pumps. To avoid double counting, remove this electricity from the heating and cooling sector when calculating the headline renewable share.
Amend Annex VII of the RED to include the electricity used to drive heat pumps so that it accounts for the full contribution of heat pumps.
Comments Off on ‘Game on’ for Germany’s heat pump transformation
Time is of the essence if Germany hopes to meet its ambitious net-zero emissions target by 2045. To achieve this goal, the country will have to rapidly transform how it heats its buildings while ridding itself of Russian gas. Alongside increasing the renovation rate of buildings and rolling out clean district heating, heat pumps are one of the key technologies that can phase out fossil fuels and bring renewable heat to German buildings.
Germany will need to install around 6 million heat pumps by 2030 to be on track for the 2045 target. That translates to a massive increase in annual heat pump uptake — from 154,000 installations in 2021 to 500,000 yearly by 2023. Up until now, most of these units have been installed in new buildings. The existing building stock will need to bear most of the load and, crucially, low-income households must receive enough support to make the transformation equitable as well.
The challenge is enormous. Despite generous subsidies during the past few years to encourage the replacement of fossil fuel boilers with heat pumps, the market has been stubborn. The year 2021 saw more than 920,000 heating appliances installed in Germany – 700,000 were still oil and gas boilers.
Germany’s 65% rule: Russian gas out, heat pumps in
To achieve its net-zero target and reduce gas consumption, Germany needs to end fossil fuel boiler installations as soon as possible. Financial incentives for clean alternatives did not trigger the necessary market shifts in the past. Regardless of much higher gas prices, subsidies are unlikely to be enough for the required transition. This is in part because German households pay more than six-times higher taxes and levies per kilowatt-hour of electricity than for fossil gas.
What else can be done? The federal government’s answer was announced in March 2022. Starting in January 2024, all new heating systems will need to run on 65% renewables. This political agreement should apply to heating system installations in new buildings as well as replacements in existing ones.
The 65% threshold must be implemented via laws, but the agreed wording leaves the door open to hybrid heat pumps where, typically, a heat pump is combined with a fossil boiler. That would be the bare minimum — standalone oil or gas boilers are de facto ruled out and even solar thermal systems combined with gas boilers would not meet the 65% baseline.
Hybrid heat pumps are cost-advantageous only in the rarest cases. According to the new analysis, standalone heat pumps hold the economic upper hand until the outside temperature falls to -7°C, at which point it is cheaper to heat with a gas boiler. For comparison, from 1991-2020, January temperatures in Germany averaged 1.7°C.
Transforming a heating market based on 700,000 fossil fuel heating systems to a market predominately centered around heat pumps in only 18 months is a daunting task. Once implemented, the ‘65% rule’ will become the regulatory instrument that draws the borders of the field on which the game will take place. And in January 2024, it will blow the whistle to kick it off. Before that happens, a massive and swift industrial transformation will be required that sweeps along all members of the supply chain, from manufacturers to installers to households. Targeted support for low-income households will be crucial so they are not disadvantaged.
The total cost of owning a heat pump could slow down their future uptake or significantly increase the cost burden on homeowners. Without considering existing subsidies, the upfront cost of a first time, fossil-fuel-to-heat-pump switch in Germany is still around two- to three-times higher than a gas boiler replacement, though much of this is associated with radiator and pipe upgrades. Upfront costs, however, have risen significantly due to a shortage of skilled craftspeople. Installers say they can reduce costs by shortening the installation time from three to two days, while manufacturers have a 40% cost reduction potential in view based on new production methods as well as economies of scale.
To help reduce operating costs, the government has shifted its famous renewable energy surcharge away from electricity bills onto general taxation. On top of that, it is gradually phasing in a carbon price on heating fuels that should reduce this imbalance in the coming years. The new analysis recommends lowering the electricity price for heat pumps by exempting them from certain levies, reducing the VAT to the EU-minimum, and enabling the use of heat pump tariffs that maximize the contribution of heat pump flexibility to meeting power system needs.
To achieve the Germany’s ambitious net-zero target and provide transparent and predictable market conditions, the whistle is in the hand of the government. Kicking off the heat pump transition in a transparent, equitable and suitably ambitious manner means tabling a draft law to implement the 65% rule as soon as possible.