With the UK announcing this week that they are opening up 20 new Oil and Gas fields to assist in meeting at least three weeks of supply for the country, the UK is pinning its decarbonisation and supply hopes on the Gas market. Being a country which is heavily reliant on imports of gas, and the reliance being costly and not certain in the Russian dominance era, this seems like from a business, not climate, perspective a smart move.
This therefore makes the contrast a stark one in comparison to the Victoria announcement also this week to ban all new Gas connections in homes and government buildings. With this being under the premise of cost savings I am not sure everyone is buying what the States Energy Minister, Lily D’Ambrosio, is selling.
Without diving into that political black hole, there must be a thought going through many Victorians heads though, with Gas gone how do we replace the gas boilers with something equally as effective without blowing out our electricity consumption.
Well, this is something which has been looked at in depth within the wider market at the moment, and the most effective solution is a heat pump. Sales of heat pumps, according to the IEA, have increased globally 11% in the past year alone and 49% in Europe.
So what is a Heat Pump? The traditional Heat Pump is an air source heat pump. Similar to your air con unit, the unit is fitted to the outside of the house and will pull the air into its refrigerant system. This turns the refrigerant into vapour which is compressed and creates – yes you guessed it – heat. This process can work in all temperatures, even below zero and therefore could be an effective solution for Victoria.
This all sounds great but ultimately is it costly and how effective is it? Well, a gas boiler is around 90-95% efficient, whereas the heat pump is 350% efficient. They actually produce 3.5 times more energy to use as heat than the electricity to run them. This could be the solution as even if the electricity is more expensive than the gas, sorry to the Vic government but you can’t spin that any other way, the amount required is less and therefore it could reduce those bills, you may get your wish after all!
This concept hasn’t been completely lost on the Victorian government as after the initial announcement they followed with a $10m grant to electrify new homes, with developers able to apply for rebates for solar panels, solar hot water systems and … heat pumps. However, with electricity prices rising, the new Victorian Government Owner corporation stalling, and electrification legislation being pushed through, at what point does the equation not add up in time for the grid to be able to take all this new load?
The ESOO and next years ISP will no doubt make interesting reading as all state’s electrification, degasification and net zero plans start being incorporated into the final view of our grid and its requirements.