Humanising Policy: Exploring the Good and Bad of Electricity
(GridCarbon is a free app for Apple and Android devices and is ideal for anyone who wants to get a clearer idea of the energy mix on the grid. Just search for GridCarbon in your relevant app store)
It will take significant investment and time to get the grid to net zero carbon by 2035 and even if government succeeds, ‘renewable’ does not always mean ‘reliable’. It is, of course, better to supplement half our use of fossil fuels with renewables than not to use renewables at all, but ensuring there is enough renewable energy to meet demand remains a challenge to be overcome.
Next let’s consider the challenge of capacity – having enough electricity to meet the demand. In the UK, we currently have a heavy reliance on fossil fuels for our heating and hot water. If we were to move every single UK home onto an electric alternative overnight tonight, we would find that we simply do not have the energy supply available on the grid to cope with the demand.
The supply of electrical capacity is increasing, however, and it is being strengthened in anticipation of a steep rise in demand. Tariffs which make use of times when energy is in more abundance or cheaper, such as off-peak and smart time of use, are also entering the market at pace. So steps are being taken to overcome this challenge, but whilst electricity is becoming greener by the day and capacity will increase to match demand, we must be sure to make the transition at a pace which our grid can support.
The final challenge we want to consider is the understandable concern around cost. For various reasons, electricity is significantly more expensive than gas, generally at around quadruple the price per kilowatt-hour. However, this may not always be the case. This year, government is planning on consulting around changing the levies to make electricity a more attractive solution when compared to gas. They are also considering incentives to increase how insulated your home is (the better the insulation, the lower the cost of heating your space), which is a tactic already being used for new builds.
Whilst government is planning steps to help, there are things that specifiers and even homeowners can do to play a part in meeting this challenge. Did you know, for example, that heat pumps can use 1kW of ‘paid for’ energy to produce 3kW of usable energy? This can offer a possible saving for end users as well as benefitting the grid and the environment. What we each can do will be dependent on personal circumstance and means, of course, but now is the ideal time to start researching to see what options are available.
So we’ve explored some of the advantages and challenges that come with the electrification of heating. But to decarbonise our society we need to consider all the avenues, which is why government and industry are also exploring other options such as hydrogen as an alternative for fossil fuel, which offers its own challenges and potential advantages, though these are still being fully explored. But whatever the future holds, there is no doubt that electrification has a significant role to play.
At GDHV we have products to easily electrify the heating of the home, as well as the knowledge and experience which can help specifiers and end users make the most of them. Watch this space for future blogs as we will look at what products we at GDHV are making which can help lead us, as individuals and as an industry, into the future of electrified heating.