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Heating Economics Evaluated Against Emissions: An Analysis of Low-carbon Heating Systems with Spatiotemporal and Dwelling Variations


An understanding of heating technologies from the consumers’ perspective is critical to ensure low-carbon technologies are adopted for reducing their current associated emissions. Existing studies from the consumers’ perspective do not compare and optimise the full range and combinations of potential heating systems. There is also little consideration of how spatiotemporal and dwelling variations combined alter the economic and environmental effectiveness of technologies. The novelty of this paper is the creation and use of a new comprehensive framework to capture the range of heating technologies and their viability for any specific dwelling’s traits and climate from customers’ perspective which is missing from current studies. The model optimises combinations of prime heaters, energy sources, ancillary solar technologies and sizes, thermal energy storage sizes and tariffs with hourly heating simulation across a year and compares their operation, capital, and lifetime costs alongside emissions to realise the true preferential heating systems for customers, which could be used by various stakeholders. Using the UK as a case study, the results show electrified heating is generally the optimum lifetime cost solution, mainly from air source heat pumps coupled with photovoltaics. However, direct electrical heating becomes more economically viable as dwelling demands reduce from smaller dwellings or warmer climates, as shorter durations of the ownership are considered, or with capital cost constraints from lower income households. Understanding this is of high importance, as without correctly targeted incentives, a larger uptake of direct electrical heating may occur, which will burden the electrical network and generation to a greater extent than more efficient heat pumps.

Funding source: The authors wish to thank the School of Engineering at the University of Warwick who funded this research. Wei He acknowledges the financial support from the Royal Academy of Engineering (RF\201819\18\89).
Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: United Kingdom

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