The key trends facing the energy industry in 2020
The beginning of a new year means the UK is another step closer to the year 2050 and its net-zero carbon target. We look at some of the key trends for the energy industry in 2020…
The new Future Homes Standard means new-build homes will no longer be fitted with fossil-fuel heating systems from 2025. This means housebuilders and planners will begin to promote low-carbon developments which showcase eco-friendly building techniques.
Today’s gas boilers will soon be left out in the cold, so 2020 will see the start of a transition within the energy industry to renewable technology. The Committee for Climate Change recommends electrically-powered heat pumps which produce no point-of-use emissions, while the new National Design Guide points to ground-source heat pumps and district heating.
Before the revolution can begin, the energy industry needs to educate consumers on the environmental benefits and the system of calculating carbon emissions. For example, ground-source heat pumps have carbon factors of 0.030-0.045 compared to 0.23 for a gas boiler — that’s an 80% reduction in carbon emissions.
Controlling a thermostat from your phone is just the tip of the iceberg for smart technology. Our low carbon future relies on autonomous technology taking control of the energy network to ensure optimal performance and efficiency.
Just think, data from millions of devices across the UK, including electric vehicles, will allow the grid to produce enough energy without wasteful over generation. This could also save billions of pounds of capital investment in generating capacity.
Smart metering allows suppliers to accurately bill consumers for the energy they use, with the appropriate tariff for their lifestyle. Smart controls mean householders can take advantage of these tariffs by running their ground source heat pumps when prices are lowest.
We all know that our summers are getting hotter, while our homes and office buildings are becoming better insulated. This means there is a trend for more efficient cooling which does not hurt our efforts to fight climate change.
Traditional air conditioning removes heat from a building, only to pump it into the air outside. A ground array with an ambient temperature district heating loop is an excellent source of cooling – as extracting heat from the ground all winter means there is an area of pre-chilled ground which is conveniently piped to each property via a heat pump.
This passive cooling can be provided by a low cost, circulating pump. The heat removed from each property is sent into the ground, which further improves the heat pump heating efficiency the following winter.
Blockchain technology uses peer-to-peer networks to help customers to easily trade energy. This system can be used by both energy companies and private individuals.
Utility providers can take advantage of blockchain’s distributed ledger technology by better tracking the chain of energy on the grid. The technology can also promote energy micro-generation by individuals who could privately trade excess energy over blockchain.
Blockchain technology also has the potential to be used as a tool against cybersecurity and the dangers of energy theft and cyber attacks.
Anyone wanting to make sense of the energy market in 2020 should keep an eye on these trends…