Sustainable energy sources for heat networks. Requirement, uneconomical top and bottlenecks by 2030

CE Delft was commissioned by the Consultation Platform sources and systems (Samenwerkingstafel bronnen en systemen), which falls under the Implementation Committee for the Built Environment of the Climate Agreement (Klimaatakkoord), to identify what is needed to make heat sources for heat networks more sustainable by 2030. The sustainability requirements set out in the draft version of the Collective Heat Act (Wet collectieve warmte) and the sustainability and growth ambitions of the Climate Agreement require both an increase in heat production and an increase in the sustainability of heat production. Many sustainable heat sources are expected to experience an uneconomical top in the coming years. The Consultation Platform requested details on the size of this total uneconomical top with regard to meeting the targets, the extent to which options involving production in the winter season (‘mid-merit’) would be required and what other bottlenecks are involved. ‘

This study shows that 24 PJ of heat production from new sources is required to meet the 2030 goals. To estimate the uneconomical top, we used the cost methodology of the SDE++ subsidy scheme. When the SDE++ subsidizes these sources, a budget reservation of 6.7 billion euros is required. The study finds, based on interviews with heat companies, that there are sufficient new heat sources in the pipeline to meet the 2030 goals. By 2030, no mid-load sources will be required as yet: it is likely that they will be after this date. To achieve the required sustainability, there are various bottlenecks that need attention:

  • Sustainability of networks with a CHP without loss as the main source is very difficult, especially spatial integration.
  • Network congestion and high network tariffs cause implementation problems for e-boilers and heat pump systems.
  • Seasonal heat storage is not sufficiently developed to provide significant support in making heat networks more sustainable.
  • Sustainable sources mainly play a role in base load generation. Making mid-load and peak-load generation sustainable is a challenge.
  • The fact that heat networks will come under public ownership (legislative proposal for the Collective Heat Act) creates uncertainty for commercial heat companies.