Pitfalls in decarbonising heat : a misalignment of climate policy and product energy labelling standards

Armstrong, P. M. and Bhagavathy, S. M. and Kang, R. and McCulloch, Malcolm (2019) Pitfalls in decarbonising heat : a misalignment of climate policy and product energy labelling standards. Energy Policy, 131. pp. 390-398. ISSN 0301-4215 (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2019.04.012)

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There is considerable potential to decarbonise household energy consumption through the electrification of heating systems which can absorb excess renewable power and mitigate power network constraints through intelligent control. However, current standards discourage low carbon electricity sources through outdated assumptions; predicated upon a traditional electricity network which had higher emissions. Consequently, the implementation of product Energy labelling across Europe is biased against electric space and water heating systems in favour of gas. This paper examines the impact of this bias through a case study of the European Union's product labelling directive for domestic hot water systems. Laboratory testing of a market leading electric water tank and an A rated instantaneous gas boiler has demonstrated efficiencies of 87.4% and 72.9% respectively. In spite of this, the labelling directive assigns a C rating to the tank. This is due to a conversion coefficient (CC) within the directive's calculation based on an average electricity generation efficiency of 40% without a similar coefficient for gas. This paper advocates the removal of the CC factor from the directive to normalise the comparison, thus promoting a technology uniquely suited towards absorbing intermittent renewable energy sources with negligible costs.