By Susana Paardekooper, MSc., Brian Vad Mathiesen, Professor MSO, and Lars Grundahl, MSc., Aalborg University Aalborg University
low hanging fruits available; and it is their implementation that remains challenging. Through research at Aalborg University, Denmark, and in particular the Heat Roadmap Europe projects, we have identified three areas where there are still significant opportunities to improve the heating and cooling sector, which must be taken better advantage of than currently set out. Renovation strategies mean a better energy transition Heat savings, and particularly heat savings in the existing building stock, are essential to decarbonise the heating and cooling system and can still be very economical if they are implemented when people are doing regular renovations to their house. This is especially the case for individual homes, built before 1980. While the Winter Package addresses the building stock extensively in the proposals for the EPBD (Energy Performance of Buildings Directive), the focus remains exclusively on the individual building rather than integrating renovation strategies with NEEAPs (National Energy Efficiency Action Plans), SEAPs (Sustainable Energy Action Plan), and the wider energy system. This automatically limits buildings’ potential to contribute to the decarbonisation of the energy system. An investigation in the Danish building stock and energy system has shown that if the building stock is to be part of a wider energy transition towards decarbonisation and renewability, thermal performance is not enough (Figure 1). Buildings must also enable technologies that maximise synergies within energy systems such as low temperature district heating, consider user behaviour and find a balance between investing in savings and renewable supply technologies. Approaching renovation strategies with a more integrated perspective will not only allow for more and deeper renovations, but also enable a better energy transition in other sectors of the energy system.
It has been a while since the first Heat Roadmap Europe research report was launched in 2012, in which we first emphasised the importance of an integrated smart energy system for Europe’s heating and cooling sector. Europe has faced a number of challenges, including a Brexit and a refugee crisis. However, there is also a strategic crisis with regards to the integration of the energy sectors in the European Union. The EU’s “Clean Energy for All Europeans” set of proposals, more commonly known as the Winter Package, was published in November 2016. The emphasis on 1) energy efficiency and 2) an expansion of renewable energy for heating and cooling can enable a real development of renewable energy in heating. The Winter Package also recognises the need for an integrated approach towards the sectors – something which underpins the ability of the energy systems to achieve decarbonisation in an affordable way through synergies and smart energy systems. This is indeed good news, as in Heat Roadmap Europe we have repeatedly found that Europe is able to provide heat in a more efficient, sustainable and affordable way by combining energy savings, efficient individual heating and district heating in an integrated approach. As part of the Energy Union, it marks the largest launch of changes in EU legislation on the energy markets to date. While critics say that it is simply old wine on new bottles, the package provides a much-needed change concerning the heating and cooling sector, which has been neglected so much in the past. When the EU Energy Roadmap was published in 2011, heating and cooling did not get much attention. This prompted the start of our Heat Roadmap Europe series (www.heatroadmap.eu), which is now in its 4th edition. Since then, the Commission hosted its first heating and cooling conference in 2015, and published its first heating and cooling strategy last year. In the past 7 years, we have seen the EU and energy community recognise the importance of heating and cooling more and more, and the Winter Package is an extension of this. The Winter Package has been brought out with the framing that ‘we have already harnessed the low-hanging fruits’, and the next steps towards more renewable and efficient heating and cooling will be more challenging. While this may be true on the policy side, our research also shows that there are many more technical
Figure 1: Three perspectives that are key to the role of buildings in future cost- effective sustainable energy systems. Taken from Future Green Buildings: A Key to Cost-Effective Sustainable Energy Systems. Department of Development and Planning, published in 2015 by Aalborg University
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