Smart heating system could cut bills and increase use of renewables

SETS is mainly intended to replace traditional night storage heaters, but could be installed by any electric heating user.

26 February 2013

A new smart electric thermal storage (SETS) system – which offers electric heating customers efficiency savings of up to 20% – could play a key role in Europe's transition to a smarter, low-carbon energy system, by storing up renewable energy when demand is low and supply is high. This is the main conclusion of a new report published today by energy consultancy DNV KEMA and commissioned by leading energy company SSE and appliance manufacturer Dimplex.

The report looked at the potential impact of the new SETS technology, brought to market for the first time by SSE and Dimplex through their new Quantum storage heater, on both customers and the energy system. The study found that, as well as providing significant comfort and cost benefits to those using storage heating, SETS could provide as much as 54GW of additional flexible storage capacity across Europe by 2050, enabling renewable electricity to be stored up when output is high and used to heat homes and water when needed.

SETS is mainly intended to replace traditional night storage heaters, but could be installed by any electric heating user. Old night storage heaters store up energy overnight for use during the day, but are generally inefficient and provide limited control over how and when a room is heated. The new Quantum product is up to 20% more efficient, offers users more comfort through better control over room temperature and has inbuilt controls designed for smart grid integration.

As the UK and Europe continue their transition towards a low-carbon energy system, increasing proportions of renewables in the energy mix means innovation in electricity storage will be needed to help balance the inherent variability of renewable output with patterns of demand. The report found that if the EU-27 replaced all of the current installed base of night storage heaters, SETS could provide 54GW of controllable demand by 2050, potentially saving up to 7.4TWh of electricity and 3 mega-tons of CO2 emissions per year. This could be increased to 148GW if all electrically heated homes switch to SETS.

In the UK, the report shows that SETS has potential to create 13GW of storage capacity by 2050. This is equivalent to 12% of the country's current total installed capacity and could help the UK harness output from its renewable energy sources more effectively.

Ian Marchant, Chief Executive of SSE, said: "No matter what the energy supply mix looks like in the future, it is clear that there will be more renewables on the system, which means it will be crucial to find new ways to balance the variability of supply in a smarter electricity grid. This report shows that smart electric thermal storage has huge potential to help in this area, as well as saving people money and giving them much better control over their heating. We're therefore delighted to be bringing it to market for the first time in partnership with Dimplex."

Stuart Mackenzie, Managing Director of Dimplex, added: "Quantum offers consumers with electric storage heaters the opportunity to reduce their running costs by up to 27%. It's also a Green Deal approved measure, so the capital cost outlay can be substantially reduced."

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