03 December 2019
Burohappold and Zero West ran a fascinating event on Tuesday 26th November, sponsored by Vattenfall, looking at how to decarbonise heat in the West of England region.
Punchy and inspiring talks addressing the wider context of climate change and the urgency of cutting greenhouse gas emissions kicked off the day. Around the room consensus was reached (without hesitation) that the emissions associated with heat are a large and complex part of the problem and therefore changing our heating solutions is integral to tackling climate change.
Striking analysis was presented showing what would need to happen in Bristol to achieve zero carbon heating by 2030, involving Copenhagen levels of heat networks and huge investment in heat pumps for those buildings not connected to the heat network, plus insulation. This largely electrified scenario relies on grid decarbonisation, but cities can contribute to this by providing smart, flexible loads. Local grids will need to be upgraded rapidly. It is possible for the West of England (WoE) region to produce the amount of electricity that would be needed to electrify heat across the year. However demand and supply would not match at all times, implying a need for storage and interconnection rather than an energy island approach for the region. This scenario, or any heating scenario would be challenging to implement in time to meet current WoE targets, and action needs to be taken now in order for the WoE to overcome environmental, social and economic hurdles to de-carbonising heat in the WoE.
Five minute pitches showed inspiring work going on already in the region, including: improving energy efficiency in homes; piloting the use of hydrogen for heat; using renewables to decarbonise agricultural businesses and drive similar improvements through supply chains; community engagement and tackling fuel poverty; and new heat-as-a-service business models.
Participants from all over the area and with a variety of expertise spent the afternoon considering actions that could boost drivers for, and reduce barriers to, heat decarbonisation. This will culminate in an action plan from Zero West. Some observations from the conversations Vattenfall were involved in include (in no particular order):
We are excited and inspired by the organisations present last week and look forward to sharing the journey towards de-carbonisation with them, and others, to achieve the crucial task of zero carbon heat.
Rufus Ford and Hannah Spurgeon
Event photos courtesy of BuroHappold.