Quantifying the Impacts of Heat Decarbonisation Pathways on the Future Electricity and Gas Demand

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The decarbonisation of heat supply will play a critical role in meeting the emissions reduction target. There is, however, great uncertainty associated with the achievable levels of heat decarbonisation and the optimal heat technology mix, which can have serious implications for the future electricity and gas demand. This work employs an integrated gas, electricity and heat supply model to quantify the impacts of heat decarbonisation pathways on the future electricity and gas demand. A case study in the Great Britain is performed considering two heat decarbonisation scenarios in 2050: one is the predominantly electrified heat supply and the other is the predominantly hydrogen-based heat supply. The electricity demand becomes more volatile in the electrified heat scenario as the peak surges to 107.3 GW compared to 51.1 GW in the 2018 reference scenario, while the peak in hydrogen-based heat scenario is 78.4 GW. The peak gas demand declines from 247.6 GW for 2018 to 81.7 GW for electrified heat scenario and to 85.1 GW for hydrogen-based heat scenario, confirming that the seasonality associated with heat demand is shifting away from the gas network and towards electricity network. Moreover, a sensitivity analysis shows that the future electricity demand is highly sensitive to parameters such as relative heat demand, coefficient of performance of air source heat pumps and share of electricity in hydrogen production. Finally, the application of a load shifting strategy demonstrates that demand-side flexibility has the potential to maintain the electricity system balance and minimise the generation and network infrastructure requirements arising from heat electrification. While the case study presented in this paper is based on the Great Britain, the findings regarding the future electricity and gas demand are relevant for the global energy transition.

Demand-side flexibility; Decarbonisation pathway; Electricity demand; Gas demand; Heating demand.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 8 May 2022


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