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Title: Technology-rich economic modelling and analysis of residential heating systems for low carbon policy support
Author: Munuera, Luis
ISNI:       0000 0004 5994 1833
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2014
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The expectation is that by 2050 in order to mitigate climate change damage little or no fossil fuel will be delivered to homes in the UK. The issue of decarbonising heat has only recently won recognition. The UK Government has launched ambitious policy instruments aimed at both reducing heating consumption and decreasing the carbon intensity of heat supply. The current consensus calls for decarbonisation of heat via electrification, largely a product of national energy system modelling exercises. However, it is argued here these studies have not fully exploited the consequences of the kind of optimisation that would occur under competitive pressure between the different solutions at the level they are deployed. Nor have the external factors that would delimit competing technologies, such as heat densities, or non-economic constraints, been identified under the conditions of a fossil-fuel free economy. The problem is exacerbated by a lack of real experience in the UK with many low carbon heating technologies; new datasets on technology performance are becoming available that are questioning the suitability of aggregate modelling. This thesis explores the adequacy of current analytical tools and data for modelling the transition towards low carbon residential heat. A spatially-explicit techno-economic model is developed to analyse the low carbon transition at multiple scales, exploiting emerging data sources that are allowing new modelling techniques to support robust policy-making. Explicit consideration is given to the role of heat pumps, given their significance in the policy discourse, advancing the impacts of the real field performance of emerging technologies. The results in this thesis point towards the necessity of incorporating detailed representations of the built environment in classical modelling approaches, along with spatial allocation of demands and deployment constraints. To complement the techno-economic modelling, a socio-technical perspective on low grade heat technology transition is applied. This suggests drivers of past transitions need to be understood in a broader context beyond cost and efficiency, and reinforces the importance of scale and space. In turn, institutions may not be adequately aligned to capture the diversity of options and the heterogeneity of users and built infrastructure in current residential heat policy-making.
Supervisor: Fisk, David Sponsor: Imperial College London
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral