Local on-site generation and energy management are key to reaching net zero carbon emissions, according to the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE).
The ADE envisions a future in which a smart, user-led system replaces the traditional centralised approach, with power, heat and transport systems working together, designed around the user’s needs. This “energy revolution” will lead to the customer using, but also generating, storing and even shifting the timing for the energy they need.
The way to achieve this future energy system is through on-site flexibility, generation and energy storage, energy efficiency, implementation of heat networks and on-site combined heat and power systems, the association said.
For example, ultra-low carbon on-site combined heat and power, capturing otherwise wasted heat, could increase to 15 GW, the equivalent of more than seven large power stations.
Recycling of waste heat through heat networks could provide heating for 1.5 million homes by 2030, rising to 5 million by 2050. There are already 500,000 homes connected to heat networks, saving connected households an average of £100 per year compared with using a gas boiler.
Reducing peak energy demand by just 5% through flexibility services is estimated to be worth at least £800m to homes and businesses.
And improved efficiency in UK homes could reduce household energy bills by up to a third, or £400 a year.
“Whether through on-site generation, storage, energy efficiency, capturing waste heat or smart vehicle charging, the next stage of the energy revolution centres on the energy user,” said Dr Tim Rotheray, director of the ADE. “From homes to industrial sites, we need to help energy users drive a dramatic change in our energy system. Those same users will benefit from lower bills, cleaner air and even a rebate on their power bill for helping the system.”