A Daikin Altherma heat pump. Picture: Dailkin.

SP Energy Networks (SPEN) has unveiled a first-of-its-kind tool for modeling the absorption of low-carbon forms of heat, dubbed “Heat-Up”.

It will allow the network supplier to estimate the size of the heat pump needed to heat a building from the characteristics of all the homes in its region. This will then be used to understand the impact that future low carbon heat may have on the grid due to the increased demand for electricity from additional connections.

This will then allow SPEN to effectively plan for reinforcement solutions, which is especially crucial ahead of the next price control period, he said.

The network operator has invested £ 129,000 through the Network Innovation Allocation funding mechanism for the development of the tool. He has partnered with analytical consulting firm Field Dynamics, which offers a range of behavioral analyzes around the use of heat in homes, for development.

“Our government has ambitious targets for net zero emissions targets and if we are to meet them, introducing low carbon heating in homes will be crucial,” said Scott Mathieson, director of the network planning and regulation at SPEN.

“I am proud that we are leading the way towards net zero with innovations like the Heat-Up tool. The lessons from this project will enable more people to switch to low carbon heating, which helps the environment and ultimately allows us to provide more efficient service to customers and reduce costs. ”

Heat-Up will help the government and local authorities to better understand the scale of investments needed to decarbonise heat. As the government announces a target to install 600,000 heat pumps each year by 2028 as part of the ten-point plan in November 2020, this is particularly important.

The extent to which low-carbon heating is currently being rolled out has raised concerns, with OVO Energy, E.ON, EDF Energy, ScottishPower and Centrica collectively commissioning a report on the costs of switching to a heat pump in April. . This follows the warning from the Environmental Audit Committee in 2020 that the cost of electricity is about four times higher than that of gas due to the government placing the cost of its low carbon policy on customers, the adoption of heat pumps could be difficult.

Heat-Up results will further be combined with insights gained from EV-Up, a similar tool developed by SPEN to understand the impact of EV adoption. By using these tools to get a more complete picture of network requirements, the network can better understand the impact of the “house of the future,” he said.

“Reducing emissions from residential heating is one of the great decarbonization challenges of our time,” added Charlie Gilbert, Partner at Field Dynamics.

“It has been fantastic to work with the team at SP Energy Networks to develop a truly innovative methodology to assess the combination of political, technological and environmental factors that impact the grid. The results of this project have the potential to inform not only future investments, but also a much broader range of critical net zero issues. ”