SSEN seeks views on decarbonising heating for homes and businesses

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) is inviting stakeholders to attend one of two webinars to discuss the future of home heating in a net zero world and the potential role of storage heaters.

Decarbonising heat for our homes and businesses is one of the major challenges facing the UK in its transition to net zero. Heat pumps have an important role to play in providing decarbonised heating, but are not universally suitable, for example in homes without outside space, limited internal space, or that are poorly insulated.

SSEN, with Maxine Frerk, founder and director of Grid Edge Policy, is investigating the opportunities associated with storage heaters. Used in UK homes and businesses for decades, storage heaters draw electricity from the grid when prices are lower and retain it for use during the day. This means that modern storage heating can be a viable option for households on low incomes and at risk of fuel poverty, to reduce the cost of their energy bills.

As the UK moves towards a more flexible energy system, where low carbon technologies have the potential to communicate with the network operator and supply energy back to the grid when needed, storage heaters have an interesting potential role. Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) may be able to determine the timing schedules for storage heaters in constrained areas that would otherwise need expensive reinforcement. These messages are currently sent over what is known as the Radio-Teleswitch System (RTS) using the long wave radio infrastructure provided by the BBC. This is due to be de-commissioned in 2022 and RTS meters set to be displaced by smart meters, meaning new arrangements will need to be put in place to give DNOs the ability to control local heating loads.

SSEN will be sharing the findings of this desk-based analysis that has used industry and SSEN expertise, augmented by engagement with industry experts. Two webinars are being hosted:

  1. Wednesday 1 April 2-3pm “Storage heaters – the Cinderella solution in the heat de-carbonisation debate.” For the policy / fuel poverty / housing association audience. Sign up here
  2. Thursday 2 April 10-11am – “Radio Tele switching (RTS) and the lessons for future flexibility services.” For stakeholders with a strong technical knowledge. Sign up here.

Maxine Frerk, lead author on the report, said “I welcome SSEN’s support for this emerging policy area. Storage heating is not a universal solution, but for smaller, more energy efficient homes it can be the best approach – either because there isn’t the space for a heat pump or because the up-front costs of a heat pump can’t be justified for low levels of demand. It is clear that in the transition to decarbonised heat, there will be no one-size-fits-all solution and all options must be explored. I would encourage interested parties to engage with SSEN to help take this forward.”

Kate Jones, Innovation Project Manager for SSEN said: “We want to make sure that all possible avenues are explored to give our customers secure, affordable energy to heat their homes and businesses. While new technologies frequently receive the most coverage, old equipment that has been tried and tested may be repurposed with smarter controls to offer exciting new opportunities.

“I would encourage everyone with an interest in this area to join us on 1st or 2nd April and share their thoughts on this topic. A central part of our work is our “you said we did” approach and we want to engage with our stakeholders to ensure that the transition to decarbonised heat leaves no-one behind.”

Sign up to attend the policy webinar here or the technical webinar here.

Learn more about how Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks, as part of SSE plc is working to protect its staff, stakeholders and customers during the period of coronavirus, here.

About the author

Van on rural road

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks

We're responsible for maintaining the electricity networks supplying over 3.8 million homes and businesses across central southern England and north of the Central Belt of Scotland. We own one electricity transmission network and two electricity distribution networks, comprising 106,000 substations and 130,000 km of overhead lines and underground cables across one third of the UK. Our first priority is to provide a safe and reliable supply of electricity to the communities we serve in Scotland and England.

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