A project is underway to use excess wind generation to heat Highlands homes.
Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks, National Grid ESO, plus partners Delta-EE, Everoze and PassivSystems, think up to 380,000 households could benefit.
The 4D Heat pilot, with spending allowed under Ofgem’s innovation programme, will target communities north of the Highlands that are off the gas grid, but already in hot-spots of electrified home heating, and – importantly – where there is potential to expand those hot-spots.
If successful, the project addresses multiple problems. National Grid ESO spends tens of millions of pounds curtailing output from wind farms each year. It does this to keep the grid stable. With more wind coming on to the system, there will be more periods of excess generation.
Using excess power to heat homes helps solve that challenge. If the heat infrastructure is also made smart, it can become an additional source of flexibility for local and national system operators.
Meanwhile, homes off the gas grid tend to pay more to heat their homes, and are more likely to be in fuel poverty. The 4D Heat pilot could help address both issues, as well as helping to decarbonise heat, one of the biggest challenges in delivering net zero.
Additionally, it should help gauge the impact on power grids of greater electrification of heat. All new Scots homes built after 2023 must be heated from low-carbon sources, following a Holyrood edict announced in January.
”Reducing the amount of wind curtailed, as well as improving the business case for low-carbon electric heat, would be a major step forward on our path to a net zero carbon economy, said Cian McLeavey-Reville, innovation strategy manager at NG-ESO.
Kate Jones, SSEN’s project manager commented: “This project will look at how people’s homes can be made warm and comfortable, whilst making best use of the energy available. It will also investigate how smart electric heating can help to balance the grid, which as the network operator we would welcome, to help keep costs low for everyone.”