Gas for efficient and cleaner heating
Gas-based heating offers a means for energy efficiency gains and the introduction of renewables. The required technologies and much of the infrastructure is already in place to switch to gas in heating and cooling.
Modern gas boilers are very efficient for space heating and hot water production. The efficiency can be further increased by using renewables. At present, this is commonly done by using condensing gas boilers in combination with solar thermal panels, mainly for hot water production. The next generation of gas appliances will be even more efficient by using the energy from air, ground or water in gas heat pumps. Blending of natural gas with biomethane makes gas-fired condensing boilers the most cost-efficient and ecological heating technology for private households.
In commercial settings gas-based combined heating and power (CHP) and combined cooling, heating and power (CCHP) systems are used to increase energy efficiency. These integrated systems are able to use energy that is normally lost as heat. For example, heat that is released from natural gas powered electricity generators can be harnessed to run space or water heaters, or commercial boilers.
Hybrid heat pumps provide an important solution to the challenge of flexibility. The hybrid system combines a heat pump with a condensing gas boiler in a dual-fuel appliance. The heat pump supplies energy to the house at moderate temperatures down to approximately 0oC, while the condensing gas boiler supplies energy at a lower temperature.
Gas will increasingly become a key provider of both heating and electricity balancing services. It is important to develop smart and integrated networks functioning as components of a holistic energy system. While electricity networks require real-time responses to changes in demand, peak load reduction or load control, this does not apply to gas, as gas networks can store large amount of energy for extended periods of time.
Affordability and cleaner air
On average the EU consumers pay 3.5 more for electricity than for gas. The use of natural gas and renewable gases provides affordable heat for residential areas, while the development of gas-based district heating support efforts to improve air quality in urban areas. In many cases, the infrastructure for gas distribution and transmission has been built already – using this infrastructure helps to reduce the need for challenging electricity infrastructure expansions.