Publications


The Influence of Public Participation and Energy Justice on the Heating Transition in Mariahoeve, The Hague

Here is another MSc thesis from SHIFFT partner Delft University of Technology that has several students completing Master’s thesis graduation projects in the field of sustainable heating transitions.

This thesis (by Rutger Broer) addresses co-creation in the realm of energy justice and public participation at the district level. It presents an embedded case study of co-creation practices in the City of The Hague (The Netherlands). The Hague is well-known in the country for having established a municipal organization that supports citizen engagement and participation in the sustainable heating transition. The study, nonetheless reveals many challenges that the municipality encounters, and shows that energy justice issues and public values appear to be contested in various ways in the way the municipality deals with citizens. This thesis is most relevant to SHIFFT WP2.

District heating systems for sustainable heating in metropolitan areas

SHIFFT partner Delft University of Technology currently has several students completing Master’s thesis graduation projects in the field of sustainable heating transitions.

This Master’s thesis written by Stijn Wiegerinck concerns a through system analysis and design of District Heating systems in metropolitan areas, comparing practices in Denmark and the Netherlands. This thesis is of relevance to SHIFFT Work Package 1 that explores sustainable heating strategies and guidance for the heating transition.

Hydrogen, heat, and the decarbonisation of energy systems

This new working paper examines the possible roles that hydrogen could play in energy system decarbonisation, with a specific focus on its potential role in decarbonising heat in the built environment.

Tackling climate change will require deep and rapid reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions, making decarbonisation of energy systems and the provision of heating essential. There is growing global interest in how hydrogen might be able to help with this, reflecting its ability to be stored, transported, and combined with other elements, which could enable it to play a role in a wide range of applications across many sectors.

Assessing hydrogen’s potential role within the heat sector, means addressing two key questions. Firstly, how much clean hydrogen can be produced, at what cost, and by when; and then, where across the energy systems is it most sensible to use that hydrogen. The answer to the second question is more straightforward: there seems to be some consensus that hydrogen should be used in those areas that are proving difficult to decarbonise and where alternatives are not available, this includes iron and steel production, the chemicals sector, and long-haul transport like shipping and aviation. The answer to the first question is more complicated because the development of the hydrogen supply chain, including its clean production is rooted in considerable uncertainties, risks, and assumptions. This makes assumptions about its use within energy systems and the heat sector complicated.

Looking at current global hydrogen demand (around 70 Mt/yr), production is almost entirely from fossil fuels (‘grey hydrogen’) resulting in around 830 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. The carbon content of this hydrogen (10-19 kgCO2eq/kgH2) could be reduced through the application of CCUS/CCS to around 1-4 kgCO2eq/kgH2 – this lower carbon hydrogen is often called blue hydrogen. Hydrogen can also be produced cleanly, through the electrolysis of water using electricity from renewable energy resources, often referred to as green hydrogen, with emissions close to zero.

Producing cost-competitive low-carbon hydrogen at scale is recognised as one of the greatest barriers to developing its role within energy systems. For blue hydrogen, the main issue is that CCUS/CCS has suffered from high cost and project cancellations, with low levels of deployment globally, and it is therefore not yet clear how much blue hydrogen will come to market. In addition, a substantial scaling up of blue hydrogen also risks ongoing path-dependency and lock-in to natural gas infrastructure, making it hard to reduce emissions in the future and hindering wider energy system decarbonisation. For green hydrogen, production is much more costly and there are significant efficiency losses within the conversion process.

Current rates of deployment for both blue and green hydrogen are low, although this is expected to change, as an increasing number of countries develop policies and roadmaps to support hydrogen. Recent examples of the growing policy interest include the new EU hydrogen strategy, as well as significant new strategies and funding within Germany and France. This support is needed if the whole hydrogen supply chain is to scale up and become resilient, through the simultaneous creation of both supply and demand, so that a virtuous circle emerges across production, infrastructure for supply, end-use demand, and the creation of markets.

Scenarios on possible levels of future hydrogen demand suggest that by 2050, global demand could be in the region of 545 MtH2/yr, providing around 18% of the world’s final energy demand. At the European level, it is suggested that hydrogen could provide 24% of final energy demand by 2050, requiring around 57 MtH2/yr. The expectation is that blue hydrogen will be needed to help establish resilient supply chains in the short to medium term, whilst waiting for improvements in the cost, efficiency, and scale of green hydrogen production.

The attributes and versatility of hydrogen mean it could play multiple roles in decarbonising energy systems, but the case for its use within the heat sector are less clear. There are currently two main options, blending it into natural gas networks, with a practical limit of possibly up to 20% hydrogen in the mix, or using 100% hydrogen. Blending hydrogen at 20% by volume gives a potential emissions savings of around 4 to 6% relative to natural gas, if using blue hydrogen. If green hydrogen were used emissions would be slightly lower, but the costs and potential value of this clean resource mean it may be better directed to other end uses. For 100% hydrogen pathways using blue hydrogen, which seems the likeliest, emissions reductions relative to natural gas would be around 60-85% because of the upstream emissions from the natural gas supply chain and the efficiency of CCUS. However this pathway would require significant updates to infrastructure, taking in every building on a 100% network, which in addition to cost concerns , could also mean that the pace of change to enable to scale up will be incompatible with meeting climate change targets.

Hydrogen could play an important role in helping to decarbonise many areas of the energy system, and possibly some niche roles within the heating sector, but as a strategy for the rapid and deep decarbonisation of heating, the use of hydrogen is highly debateable and not compelling. Partly this is because hydrogen is just one of many possible pathways to decarbonise heat and of the options available it is one of the least developed. Waiting for hydrogen to develop as a practical choice risks delaying decisions, or stopping progress entirely on alternative heat pathways, which can be deployed now. Given the need for rapid emission reductions and the lack of progress in decarbonising heat to date, this would not be a good outcome in achieving net zero goals.

To summarise, the literature makes clear that:
• hydrogen can be put to better use in other areas of the energy system, where decarbonisation is proving more difficult and alternative options are not available or are more limited.
• both of the main options for using hydrogen will require blue hydrogen, which risks locking-in future emissions as any new capacity will remain on the system for decades and create ongoing path dependency around fossil fuels.
• blending is not a good use of hydrogen and will lead to very low reductions in carbon emissions.
• 100% hydrogen comes with big uncertainties over the costs and timescale for its deployment and would only result in the partial decarbonisation of heating.

Summary report: A common approach for sustainable heating strategies for partner cities

This report provides a high level summary of a more detailed SHIFFT report which can be accessed via the SHIFFT project website: A Common Approach for Sustainable Heating Strategies.

The transition to sustainable heating for homes and community buildings is an immense, complex operation. It calls for thorough long-term planning and preparation by local authorities, distribution system operators, builders, homeowners, and communities. It requires robust, practical, tested tools and approaches for cities to mobilise, inform and facilitate local communities to make this change.

The common approach is designed to help cities develop a low carbon heating strategy. Its purpose is to help avoid replication of work and overcome some of the complexities in enabling a transition to low carbon heating in homes and community buildings. At a high level, we suggest that a sustainable heating strategy sets out a vision for how to decarbonise heating for a city, with clear goals and a plan for how to achieve these goals, including a roadmap. The common approach SHIFFT has developed is based on literature reviews, practical experience, and two partner workshops.

The common approach framework is based on a step-by-step process that considers barriers and opportunities across technologies, people and policy/regulation. The framework will assist in the process of identifying heat supply & demand, whilst identifying opportunities, actors, technologies, resources and barriers for decarbonising heat in a local area. The SHIFFT framework recognises the need for thorough long-term planning and preparation by local authorities, builders, households, communities and wider stakeholders and highlights best practice, tested tools and approaches so that cities can mobilise, inform and facilitate local communities in the transition to low carbon heat.

Co-creation Webinar Minutes & Report

This is a summary of the cross-border co-creation webinar focused on the sustainable heating transition on April 3rd 2020, organised by Delft University of Technology and University of Exeter.  The webinar was part of SHIFFT (Sustainable Heating: Implementation of Fossil-Free Technologies), an Interreg 2 Seas project, running from 2019-2022, to assist cities in the development of low carbon heating strategies. The webinar covered insights from collective heating pioneers and neighbourhood platforms, as well as several ongoing pilot projects. The webinar also focused on how co-creation can be applied in times of social distancing, by using novel online tools, such as participatory value evaluation, developed at Delft University of
Technology.

With 78 registrations and at times 64 participants, the webinar was very well attended.

A Common Approach for Sustainable Heating Strategies for Partner Cities

Executive Summary

SHIFFT is an INTERREG 2 Seas project promoting cross-border cooperation between four European countries: the Netherlands, France, Belgium and the UK. The main objective of SHIFFT is to stimulate the adoption of low-carbon heating technologies in existing buildings, through a number of routes:

• helping to develop city strategies in four municipalities;
• producing guidance to help cities develop low carbon heating strategies;
• providing knowledge and best practice to run co-creation processes to ensure communities and stakeholders are involved in the transition to low-carbon heating;
• delivering a number of exemplar low carbon heating projects.

This report sets out some initial work by the SHIFFT team to develop a common framework approach to help cities to create low carbon heating strategies. A common approach can help cities avoid replication of work and overcome some of the complexities in enabling a transition to low carbon heating in homes and community buildings. At a high level, we suggest that a sustainable heating strategy sets out a high-level vision for how this shift will be achieved, with clear goals and a plan or policy on how to achieve these goals, including a roadmap. Drawing on a literature review and practical experience, during two workshops, the SHIFFT partnership has composed a list of key components for sustainable heating strategies. SHIFFT suggests that a sound sustainable heating strategy should:

• offer a clear goal (e.g. carbon- neutrality by 2050) with sub-goals and timeframe (e.g. 2025, 2035);
• develop a roadmap to achieve these goals;
• be co-created by citizens, technical experts, politicians and other stakeholders, so that the strategy developed will be socially legitimate;
• indicate techno-economic feasibility of sustainable heating technologies and solutions and describe under which conditions these technologies are feasible;
• not stand alone but be embedded in other local policies (e.g. climate plan, spatial planning, building regulation);
• build on and feed into heating policy at regional, national and international level (i.e. EU);
• support and steer sustainable heating projects on a district and building level;
• not simply allocate the costs to other domains (e.g. air quality, energy poverty);
• be customised to local conditions;
• be in line with legal and institutional requirements.

State of the art report for Co-creation Approaches and Practices – with a special focus on the Sustainable Heating Transition

Executive summary

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” (African proverb)

The transition to sustainable heating systems (e.g. district heating systems, heat pumps, solar thermal systems, in combination with thermal insulation) is an essential element of an effective response to climate change. But it requires more than technological innovation alone. It entails a system-wide transition that covers both technical and social components, and addresses the supply, distribution, and demand sides of local energy systems.  Heating is a fundamental aspect of the human need for shelter in our climates, and therefore a significant social, cultural, economic, and psychological phenomenon as much as technological.  Heating reaches far into people’s homes and private lives, not just workplaces or leisure contexts,
involving everyday habits and negotiations between building occupants and family members. Heat is a cultural service that cannot only be seen through the lens of economic efficiencies and return on investments. Providing heat is a key aspect of social life (e.g. entertaining guests) and seasonal cultural practices (e.g. wintertime cosiness). In the transition to sustainable heating, homeowners and local communities therefore form essential parts of the system. Their contribution to this transition by deciding to adopt sustainable heating technology for their homes and buildings is key to making it happen and co-creation provides spaces for citizens to share what heating means to them and for stakeholders to build these insights into their programmes for change.
However, residents and home/building owners are generally considered hard to reach and persuade to make investments, and to let go of currently unsustainable heating systems and adopt those that are more sustainable.  This matter is challenging for a myriad of reasons and cost is but one of them.  Despite the urgency to lower carbon emissions there is currently a limited market demand for sustainable heating solutions, particularly among building/homeowners in (existing) dense urban areas. Given the urgency of climate change and pressing socioeconomic issues there is a need to develop, implement and test incentives that target home/building owners to make investments. One promising solution is co-creation with citizens and local stakeholders.

This report clarifies the different meanings for key terms used in co-creation by taking stock of the growing vocabulary used in different approaches to public participation: by defining and comparing different terms and how they have been used. The report describes the challenges, as well as the benefits, of co-creation as well as the importance of managing expectations, power relationships, and sharing responsibility.

Co-creation is an intervention which actively involves citizens and stakeholders in making decisions about issues that affect them. The benefits of co-creation, when done well, include helping to deliver sustainable heating solutions in a timely and efficient way, increasing a sense of empowerment and citizenship as well as contributing to building trust between stakeholders and urban communities.  Through the process citizens and stakeholders share power and responsibility with a view to improving the social legitimacy of decision-making. This means working together in equal, reciprocal and caring relationships to create a more holistic understanding of context and exploring shared responsibilities for energy transitions.