Paul Voss, Euroheat & Power
This article is part of our special report Decarbonising Europe’s heating sector.
It’s a time of transition and change in Brussels and the climate and energy arena is awash with new ideas, ambitions and personalities. Though it may not yet have made many headlines, the recent emergence of ‘sector integration’ as a (apologies for this…) ‘sexy’ topic at EU level may well end up being one of the defining elements of the next five years.
Paul Voss is the Managing Director of Euroheat & Power.
Put simply, sector integration means thinking about the constituent elements of our energy system as interrelated parts of a whole rather than individual features. And while the current debate seems heavily focused on the possible interaction between gas and electricity, there is so much more to it than that! By developing and implementing the concept of energy system integration in the broad sense of the term, the EU can find the pathway to an easier, faster and more cost-effective energy transition. At the risk of committing a serious breach of copyright, it’s time to start thinking different!
Ever since the publication of the first edition of Heat Roadmap Europe back in 2013, the European district heating and cooling (DHC) community has been captivated by the idea that heat networks can and should be more than just energy-efficient local heating infrastructure. They can also play an important role in the wider energy transition by providing a physical link between what would otherwise be isolated parts of the system. Coupled with large heat pumps, DHC networks can absorb large amounts of renewable electricity, providing vital balancing and storage costs to the grid at a fraction of the cost of batteries. Similarly, heat networks can connect sources of waste heat and cold from data centres and factories with nearby buildings, turning a by-product that would otherwise be simply thrown away into a precious resource that can heat people’s homes.