In the short-term we must heat European homes this winter with almost no Russian gas. In the long-term we must use the gas crisis as an opportunity to accelerate the heating transition. How can we do both?
According to Jan Rosenow from the Regulatory Assistance Project, by 2025, two-thirds of Russian gas can be replaced by clean energy technologies – with energy efficiency, renewable energy (primarily wind and solar power) and electrification being the key levers. He also stresses that although there was some uncertainty in the past as to which technology will be used to enable low carbon heating in the future - biomass, district heating or hydrogen - that heat pumps have emerged as the clear favorite.
Christian Rellensmann, Product Manager at Thermondo believes we should now focus on installing the necessary numbers of heat pumps to enable low carbon heating. The demand is there - now businesses have the responsibility to offer availability, installation and integrated energy management to ensure a seamless transition.
Lucy Yu, CEO of Centre for Net Zero shares some figures that demonstrate the importance of fossil fuel bans with plenty of lead time - providing 10 rather than five years' notice before the ban is implemented could result in a 63% more installations for the earlier announcement. She also highlights the importance of retrofit and improving energy efficiency to make heat pumps more cost-efficient and provide ongoing return on investment.
Although bans are crucial, Jan points out that in order to reach the scale for our goals of heat pump installation, we must have a support mechanism, particularly for lower socio-economic houses who don't have the capital to buy new heat pumps to ensure that everyone has access to clean energy technologies.
Thermal energy storage (for example by storing energy in heat pumps) is another vital tool that will be key in integrated future-proof energy systems. In fact, thermal energy storage is around 100 times cheaper than using a battery and new projects in district heating are showing its potential for increased flexibility that will be needed as move to an energy system with a more variable supply side.
Maryna Hritsyshyna, Senior Manager of Regulatory Affairs at Hydrogenious LOHC Technologies, adds that hydrogen should be used to complement renewables particularly in industry, where electricity may not be able to cover all needs. Only in this way can we reduce our reliance on natural gas.